This is another long review, and basically a recap across sections of the drama, with a bit of a mindless rant thrown in the middle!
So be warned, this here Gu Family Book review be long and spoiler filled!
Gu Family Book Beginning:
Episodes 1 to 6:
Random Initial Thoughts and Impression:
SHIPPING THE WRONG DUDE – SIGH.
I was not a massive Lee Seung Gi fan (though I have never disliked him) so when I read the news that Sung Joon would be one of the second male leads I nearly had a heart attack, as I have so far had the fantastic luck of always shipping the OTP in dramas and I was suddenly terrified that I would end up backing the wrong couple in this case (namely Yeo Wool and Gon).
I am still loving Gon and the constant bickering and fits of jealousy which seem to be his character traits, but I am pleased to say I am actually rooting for the main couple of Kang Chi and Yeo Wool which is a huge relief. How the drama is going to manage to get the love sick Kang Chi to notice Yeo Wool though is another story, and something I am very much so looking forward to finding out.
Luckily though, that didn’t actually happen. The male lead of Kang Chi is instantly likeable (for once not one of the cold, rude noble types that has to evolve into a better person throughout the drama) so I warmed to him instantly, and even Lee Seung Gi’s hair seems to be working for him in this drama! Saguek styling suits him surprisingly and I am liking him in this role a lot.
THE PARENTAL LOVE-LINE
Saguek dramas have got to be my favorites and I am really liking the characters and the story so far, and think the set pieces and costumes all look incredibly gorgeous.
I liked the set up storyline about the parents generation though it was almost too tragic for me, their beautiful and sad love story’s only saving grace being the fact that I presume the younger generation will surely get a chance to rectify their parents mistakes.
I will admit also that towards the end of their segment I was feeling a little bit of hate towards Seo Hwa, along with many others I am sure.
I can understand her reasoning behind why she betrays Wol Ryung as she believes him to be a monster, but really, if she had just had a little bit of faith in him none of it would have happened.
And Wol Ryung was such a sweetheart who only wanted to be looooved. So sad. (Also…. Choi Jin-hyuk is one of my ultimate favourites ever!!!)
LEE SOON SHIM – ULTIMATE HERO! COOL …. BUT ALSO CONFUSING.
There have been a few weird (and kind of boring) plot turns so far, for instance the abrupt introduction of Lee Soon Shin, who is an insanely famous Korean Navy historical figure.
And he seems cool, his role in history is obviously utterly fascinating, but also …. it is weird that he is here in this drama about magic and folktales and the like. Huh.
I am not too sure where exactly that plotline thinks it is going, but it hardly seems necessary amongst the much more interesting possibilities of watching Kang Chi turning into a half Gumiho and begin his quest to become human, presumably with the help of Yeo Wool (who he still believes to be a man) and her petty and jealous bodyguard. Bring it on!
KICK ARSE LADIES IN MANLY CLOTHES.
And lastly, I just wanted to say how completely awesome and refreshing it is to be watching a Saguek where the leading man is going to fall in love with the tomboy commoner kick-ass woman, rather than the delicate flower noble lady.
Yeo Wool is definitely one heroine that I am very excited to learn more about, and I think Suzy is doing a great job playing her.
I know Suzy gets a lot of flack for her acting abilities but I have never had any issues in that regard. I am not a Korean speaker so maybe it is a different story when you are not reading subtitles or maybe I am blinded by my completely bias love for her and her first project ‘Dream High’, but either way there is just something about Suzy that just always makes me adore her. She is such a charming performer!
The Middle: Gu Family Book
Gu Family Book Episode 12:
Ok, well technically this isn’t exactly a review now because I have sort of missed a huge chunk of stuff in the middle, so therefore perhaps this could perhaps be more accurately described as a big grumpy rant.
But seriously Gu Family Book, what are you trying to do to me?
Kill me obviously.
Holy shit. I just finished watching up to episode 12 of Gu Family Book and I now feel absolutely sick. I need to do a big rant on this one or I might actually explode!
An Enormous Ranty Rant!
I thought this was meant to be a fun fantasy fusion Sageuk and I am just so so shocked that this drama went where it did regarding the Chung Jo storyline and the uber completely disturbing Jo Gwan-woong.
I mean WFT drama? No one saves her and she got raped?
I am so utterly disturbed.
Seriously the whole of episode 12 was so emotionally draining for me that I now feel overwhelmingly exhausted just from the experience of sitting on my couch and watching it. It went so hardcore beyond my expectations, seriously pushing over the line, and I am just not sure at all how I feel about that. (Other than completely disturbed obviously…)
I just don’t understand what the plan is regarding the character of Chung Jo and to be honest I was still expecting her to be saved even until the last minute before the awful scene in the evil Jo Gwan-woong’s bedroom. Character wise are the writers planning to turn Chung Jo into some sort of vindictive horrible person now? Because unless they do I just don’t understand how Kang Chi can ever forgive himself for what just happened to her. Or Tae Soo either for that matter, seeing his sister the morning after she is forced to sleep with Jo Gwan-woong and actually acting like she had choice in the matter whatsoever, like he was disgusted with her!
In regards to Kang Chi, I mean I get that Chung Jo betrayed him when she found out his secret so he feels rejected and abandoned, but I also feel that the circumstance this time was different to that of his parents, as in Wol Ryung never once hurt Seo Hwa’s family, whilst Chung Jo did witness Kang Chi slice into Tae Soo’s chest.
Again, totally not Kang Chi’s fault, he was completely provoked into that action by Tae Soo, but still it is hard for Chung Jo to see anything like reason when she has just watched a member of her family being hurt in front of her eyes. I don’t agree that Chung Jo immediately condemns Kang Chi (especially later in the cave when it is clear that Kang Chi is hurting and still the same inside) but again, worry for your brother can make you blind.
Therefore I also don’t agree with the fact that Chung Jo is now classed as a betraying betrayer when I feel like she still might change her mind if Tae Soo and Kang Chi could explain the situation more clearly to her. And I also really hate that Kang Chi has not even wondered what happened to her after she fled into the woods. If he really truly loved her (which I suppose he doesn’t which is sort of the point) he would be worried about the fact that she was left out in the woods alone when he knew there were soldiers and Gwan-woong’s men out there. I understand he wasn’t exactly in a situation to do anything about it until he got his bracelet back but you know, maybe the next day he could have wondered where and how she was.
The idea that after that horrible experience with the evil Gwan-woong that Chung Jo now has nowhere to go and must return to become a Gisaeng is kind of shit. I know Gisaeng’s maybe get more freedoms then noble woman of that time but they are still slaves forced to sell their bodies against their will and I don’t feel like that is an awesome option for Chung Jo. Also why did her brother not look for her after finding out what Gwan-woong had done? Why did Tae Soo return to the academy alone?
Answer: he feels disgust and not compassion.
So from all of the above you might believe I am shipping Kang Chi and Chung Jo which is totally not at all the case. I really love how capable and independent Yeo Wool is and love that a strong heroine like her is the lead love interest and not the usual beautiful damsel in distress such as Chung Jo.
However if Chung Jo is going to now become a vindictive bitter second lead trying to mess things up and betraying the good guys (because if she doesn’t become evil how can the viewer feel anything but pity for her that Kang Chi will now fall in love with someone else) I just wish that the root of her change could have been a different reason other than the fact that she was abandoned and then raped by her parent’s murderer on top of seeing Kang Chi’s true side at the worst possible moment for her to make an informed decision on whether he is a monster or not.
These plot developments make me feel nothing but pity and sadness for her.
Ok whoah, what a bloody huge rant. I don’t know when I will get a chance to see the next episode (episode 13) but I really really hope that the show sorts this shit out! I am still sort of hoping it was a mislead and he didn’t really rape her and we will find out it was all a dream…….
Also….I wish the awesome Yeo Wool would get some more screen time but I guess she isn’t angsty enough…..
Gu Family Book Episode 13:
Mmmh, ok I was getting very worried about this drama after watching Episode 12 and even got to the point where I was putting off going any further, preferring to watch anything else rather than the next Gu Family Book episode. This was certainly a far departure from how I obsessively ate up the earlier episodes, even staying up to the early hours of the morning for a marathon catch up on those episodes I was behind on (due to my dumb internet connection).
After finally watching Episode 13 I still don’t think my faith has been restored completely, but I do feel I am a little more invested in this story then I thought I would be, and I am actually strongly welcoming the return of Daddy Gumiho and the clearly evil veiled woman only because it takes a little focus away from the so completely gross Jo Gwan-woong storyline which I totally do not enjoy at all.
The only part of Daddy Gumiho’s reappearance that frustrated me was the obvious plotline of everyone suspecting Kang Chi’s beast side to be the culprit behind the sudden deaths in the woods, but this was actually resolved ultra quickly much to my relief, so fast in fact that I hardly even had time to start complaining. (Which I totally would have by the way. Here. In my blog. Thank the drama gods you were spared that horror).
I still really like that Yeo Wool is the female lead in this drama, I like that she is tough and smart and throws herself into danger (and screw what other people think) to protect Kang Chi, proving herself over and over again as a valuable and indispensable catalyst in Kang Chi’s journey towards self acceptance and humanity. However I can’t help but also think this story would have worked just as well, if not even better with Chung Jo as the main female lead. I don’t at all like the idea that now she has become a Gisaeng she is sort of written off as a real contender for Kang Chi’s affections which is the impression I am getting from the drama, portraying her almost as a fallen woman to be pitied rather than just the same old Chung Jo who now lives in different circumstances.
I think it would have made for quite an intriguing story to take Chung Jo’s character this far (horrible rape and newly made Gisaeng included) only to have Kang Chi still stand by her and continue to love her. It is quite strange really that we have such an utterly compelling and tragic character as the second lead, someone who garners the viewers sympathies and is so likeable, leaving us rooting for her. She has never done anything underhanded or bitter, nothing that has happened has been through any fault of her own, and therefore it is a bit difficult for me to dismiss her as someone I shouldn’t care about in regards to the outcome of her story, which I feel is probably heading in a very tragic direction. And this worries me, as I just don’t really believe I can handle a sad ending for Chung Jo as she has become such a strong and likeable character.
Actually, I wonder if the drama will go in the direction of marrying her off to some kindly old noble, with the whole ‘Sense & Sensibility’ idea that once your true love has burned out and you have been ‘used up’ so to speak, there is no hope you will ever feel so strongly about someone or feel such passion again, your only option then being to marry some lovesick old dude who offers to save you from being a fallen woman and Gisaeng (in this case) and look after you. Boo! I hope not.
I feel the gravity and seriousness of Chung Jo’s situation tends to overshadow the other plotlines in this drama for me, for instance making it much less romantic when I see Kang Chi running through the streets desperately trying to find Seo Wool for their date night at the Lantern Festival. I really wish this wasn’t the case because that couple are so uber cute together and their scenes are sweet, light and charming in a way that makes me really want to care about them and get sucked into their romance. And I do feel I would be totally invested in them already if it wasn’t for Chung Jo’s super awful plight.
But maybe I am way too sensitive and just need to accept that Chung Jo is not a lead character and therefore has no guarantee whatsoever of a happy ending.
This is why I am quite welcome to the idea of the reintroduction of some more villainy characters to up the stakes and danger for Kang Chi and Seo Wool, hopefully creating a stronger sense of connection between them due to more life and death circumstances, because although it’s obvious they are falling in love (and in Seo Wool’s case is already far beyond that), everything still seems way too easy for them at the moment with no deep emotions involved for me to hold onto.
Of course I am writing this after only watching Episode 13, it is totally possible nothing I am saying is at all relevant anymore, so if that is the case I do apologise!
I will hopefully get a chance to watch Episode 14 tonight and will update my thoughts after that.
Gu Family Book Episode 14:
Well I finished watching Episode 14 last night and I rather started getting back into this drama which is a relief. Things seem to be picking up a bit more now and I am starting to feel a little more invested in the Kang Chi / Yeo Wool romance though I still stand by the opinion that this drama shouldn’t have written two such likeable and strong female characters if one of them is only going to end up alone and sad.
And yes, Chung Jo I am looking at you.
Man was Chung Jo not a total bad-arse in this episode? She is so strong in such a different way to Yeo Wool, much more contained and restrained but still strong nonetheless, having a spine of steel to back up her clever words and strong spirit. I was almost fist pumping for her constant awesomeness in this episode and some of the things she said (like telling Mr Evil that she will kill him) made me want to high five someone (but there was no one around for me to high five sadly… sob)
Right from when she told off the ‘mysterious’ guest after the concert to the conversation she has with Kang Chi outside the Gisaeng house, she was just so so compelling, true leading lady material right there.
My favourite part was after Kang Chi tells her that no matter where she lives or what she does she will always be Park Chung Jo to him, so don’t act like she is someone she is not.
And Chung Jo answers with:
‘Are you telling a gisaeng to live her life pretending she is not a gisaeng? Like a monster who pretends he’s not one, and lives amongst others as a human? I wonder which one’s harder? Accepting your fate and living with it or living in denial the rest of your life?’
And also, she has a point. Kang Chi is hurt by the fact that she was not supportive of the changes he was going through, but at the same time he is not being very supportive of her changes either. Him telling her to ‘not act like a Gisaeng’ is pretty dumb advice, considering she is a Gisaeng and on top of that Chung Jo also has a point about just accepting what you are and getting on with life. After all, what merit is there in denial?
For instance, I know the story is heading in the direction of making Kang Chi human, but why? I mean if he could learn to control his fierce beasty side then what exactly is the big deal about not being fully human? He has super strength so can protect the people he loves (except for Chung Jo apparently) and has healing blood which would come in pretty damn handy when living in medieval times. Also, I loved what Lee Soon Shin said to Kang Chi a few episodes ago about how being human is a decision. You can be a Gumiho and still have more humanity then many humans.
Your actions decide who you are and there is always a choice.
This is probably also one of the first episodes where I started to fully feel the gravity of Kang Chi’s connection with Yeo Wool and why his new feelings are so easily cancelling out his old love for Chung Jo. Because of this, I am starting to understand why they need to be together at the end of this story, the idea that she is the only one who trusts him fully and unconditionally which is the only reason he hasn’t descended into full Gumiho-ness, is both lovely and romantic so I am starting to care about them a little more. Which is nice considering they are the two leads.
Also, how completely criminally underused is Gon in this drama? I cannot for the life of me even understand why Sung Joon even decided to take this role, I mean not only is he totally not suited to mane-of-glory hair, but he is also hardly in the drama at all, a total shame considering the whole ‘bodyguard loving his charge’ is quite a fun storyline. Though of course that storyline will also end in total tragedy which my sensitive self just can’t handle.
So maybe it is just as well that Gon doesn’t get much screen time…..
I am actually starting to look forward to watching some more episodes……though I probably won’t be updating my thoughts on this drama for a few weeks due to my stupid net connection…
Gu Family Book Episodes 15 to 24:
Gu Family Book has been a bit of a strange beast for me. I wanted and expected to love it immensely but slowly and sadly realised it wasn’t quite the level of drama crack that I had hoped for, a rather disappointing truth that was very hard for me to accept. Seriously, it has all the elements that could have made me love it to death, being a fantasy fusion Saguek and all, but somehow it just didn’t use this advantage meaning it will sadly never make it onto my favourites list.
This doesn’t mean I am writing it off however and I must admit my enjoyment returned significantly once I was over the halfway point and had calmed down a little after the shocking Chung Jo storyline of ultimate uncoolness.
The first few episodes were honestly pretty damn cool and so I still harboured hope at that stage, I thought it looked absolutely beautiful in the way it was shot, the gorgeous outdoor scenery and the costumes, I liked the story set up and characters (well most of them…obviously not Mr McRapey Rape whom I hated with a fiery passion) and I was also totally rooting for the OTP.
I think things stalled a bit though with the meat of the story taking way too long getting started, and when it finally did it then confused us viewers by making Yeo Wool’s competition Chung Jo into such a likable and utterly tragic figure that I didn’t know who to root for.
This jarring pull on where I wanted Kang Chi’s affections to fall blinded me a little to the sweet and simple charms of the main OTP ( Yeo Wool and Kang Chi ) and actually pulled me away from shipping their sweetly budding romance, a huge shame really because with Chung Jo’s presence aside I think I could have really enjoyed their innocent friendship turned romance vibe. And on the other end of the scale, my shipping of the wrong character was a really terrible thing as it almost killed my enjoyment of the entire show when no one saved her from her awful fate in episode 12.
This over-the-top tragedy of Chung Jo and Tae Soo’s journey continued to be quite at odds with the main love story which was filled with such innocence and sweetness that it almost seemed inappropriate against the suffering those other characters were experiencing.
Eventually though I have managed to let go of this and just enjoy the drama for what it is, not as deep or utterly romantic as I hoped it would be, but still a sweet and fun ride nonetheless, and accepting this was a real turning point for me in regards to my enjoyment of the show. By finally letting go of my horror at Chung Jo’s fate, I was able to concentrate on the cuteness of the OTP, making the whole experience much more fun.
In other words I turned my brain off.
I may not be as emotionally attached or invested as I had hoped I would be but this is still an undeniably breezy and fun drama with much to like, keeping me plenty interested in its outcome.
Maybe one day I will even re-watch the whole thing, only I will fast forward through all the horrible tragic bits and just stick to the sweetness of Kang Chi and Yeo Wool’s romance, which would be a fun and very easy way to enjoy this drama.
Speaking of their romance, I found myself liking very much all the scenes from episode 15 and 16 where Kang Chi was attempting to kiss Yeo Wool. Up until that point I feel that their love was very pure and sweet, highlighted by ‘romantic’ hugs and not much else. The attempted kisses for me were a bit of a turning point, as from the way Kang Chi looked at Yeo Wool (mainly at her lips) I got a real sense that there was actually a little bit of passion and sexual tension between the pair who normally could have best been described as comfortable comrades rather than lovers.
Another scene that really affected me was the showdown between Kang Chi, Yeo Wool and Wol Ryung the Gumiho daddy which takes place in the woods after Yeo Wool goes missing.
When Wol Ryung threatens his son by saying that Kang Chi must give up being human if he wants Yeo Wool to live, our female lead impressed me once again with her brave steadfast loyalty. Even in that moment with Wol Ryung’s hands around her throat, she still yells at Kang Chi that he must never give up.
Even Wol Ryung is forced to acknowledge the sincerity of her words and I think it eventually dawns on him that this young couple are different from himself and Seo Hwa. After all Yeo Wool is clearly aware of Kang Chi’s non-human side and yet she still stands by his side.
And it is Yeo Wool’s words of encouragement that finally give Kang Chi the strength to stand against his father. In this really fierce and romantic showdown, he shouts out ‘Yeo Wool is mine‘, and these words remind Wol Ryung once again of his own past, stopping him in his tracks.
After he is gone Kang Chi finally manages to kiss Yeo Wool as they stand alone in the woods, little blue lights floating all around them. And it is a seriously real kiss, completely satisfying and lovely. They actually move their lips and hands and everything!
It is quite romantic but also a suitable moment for this couple as although I was worried Yeo Wool would just stand there passively (as some of the earlier kiss attempts seemed to indicate she might) really it’s not hard to imagine that her character would be a bit more fearless then that. It’s a pretty passionate and epic kiss and Yeo Wool even goes in for seconds, taking initiative like the awesome girl I knew she was.
This lovely long kissing scene sure as hell beats those completely unromantic dry lip presses we often get in other dramas, and after hours and hours of watching and waiting for a couple to finally get their act together it is an enormous relief to be treated to a proper real life passionate kiss.
Ten points to Gu Family Book.
Good job guys. I approve!
Yeo Wool and Kang Chi’s interactions after the kiss are just so utterly cute its almost hard to bear. I completely loved the following scenes where they fight (or play at fighting to be more exact) and Yeo Wool even gives Kang Chi a massive smack which is just so amusing and awesome. I really quite love her!
For the rest of the episode the sweetness is seriously on overload (in a really good way) and these guys are finally fully winning me over!
Also there was some seriously awesome dialogue which I liked so much I was driven to record some of my favourite scenes. One such moment that really stood out for me was when Gon comes across Kang Chi watching Tae Soo (who is confessing his feelings to Yeo Wool).
Gon tells Kang chi almost sympathetically that this is as close as he will ever get to Lady Yeo Wool and it is pretty obvious he is speaking from experience.
Gon continues, ‘ You and Lady Yeo Wool both will get hurt in the end. Before that you should give up’.
I loved Kang Chi’s reply, ‘Don’t you know Yeo Wool hates people who give up without even trying? I don’t do anything that Yeo Wool doesn’t like.‘
Kang Chi walks away leaving Gon looking shaken, his expression making me feel a quite sorry for him.
(But also, that right there is why you never got the girl Gon.)
Kang Chi is still thinking about Tae Soo however when Yeo Wool finds him later. She asks him if he is jealous before adding, ‘Why should you be jealous? Jealousy is for the ones who can’t have what they want.‘
What a simple and beautiful way for her to confess to him and agree with his earlier words to his father about Yeo Wool belonging to him. She has agreed that she does belong to only him. She is his. And he is hers.
Rather a lovely confession.
On a side note, gosh the cuteness of Suzy! I just cannot get enough of her, especially her hilarious interactions with her babysitting nurse and in particular the ridiculously funny moment when she laughs smugly (or was it a smug honk..? I am not really sure but I loved it) when she manages to talk her nurse into visiting the market (where Yeo Wool obviously ditches her again straight away).
I think Suzy is just the most gorgeous and lovely girl ever and I really enjoy her in this drama. She may not be the most fantastic actress but I actually think she is doing really well with emoting here and also in making me truly care for Yeo Wool as a character. But even besides her acting there is something about that girl that is just so appealing and loveable that you can’t help but adore her. Well, in my opinion anyway!
And so Kang Chi’s relationship with Yeo Wool just goes from strength to strength as they constantly prove to each other (and everyone else around them) that they will trust in each other no matter what and not make the same dumb mistakes of the parents generation.
Also can I just say what the hell is going on with Seo Hwa’s face? I mean if they couldn’t get the same actress to play the part when she returns from the dead (or not dead, whatever), couldn’t they at least have made up some magicy reason why her face is different instead of pretending she looks the same and having all the other characters recognising her as the same person? At least make her age 20 years so the actress can be changed to someone older or just explain the change with some random magical mumbo jumbo.
Boo, bad move show. So confusing.
On the topic of Kang Chi’s returning parents, how totally awesome is Wol Ryung? He is not only completely gorgeous but is able to just as convincingly play evil as he was able to previously play the sweetheart. Someone give this man a leading role now!
The scene where Wol Ryung sits on the library floor with black veins creeping up his skin and tiny black magical clouds floating all around him was very darkly atmospheric and cool. The way he sits so still and the expression on his face is all suitably ominous and I think the whole thing was very effective in bringing on the creepy.
Seriously, thank god they brought Wol Ryung back! Other than the main OTP and the (completely mishandled) storyline of Chung Jo he is by far the most interesting thing about this drama, and is a truly welcome diversion from all sorts of patriotic old dude ship building, Seo Hwa face swaps and stupid rapey old men.
Seo Hwa’s death scene was pretty epic (mainly because Wol Ryung was present and he is awesome) and I did appreciate the face swap back to the original actress even though it made no sense at all and was completely weird. But when you are already running with being totally weird I guess there is no harm whatsoever in getting a little bit weirder, so it gets a nod of approval from me.
The complete and utter lack of revenge that Seo Hwa ever inflicts on Jo Gwan-woong though is a completely different story.
I mean after 20 years of plotting to take him down, the very best she ever manages to accomplish is funding his long term business ventures anonymously?! Really Seo Hwa? That’s the best you could do?
Instead of pumping money into his evil plans, maybe she should have, oh I don’t know say hired an expensive assassin to kill him? Perhaps that would have been a smarter idea!
And if she was really searching for her son for 20 years she probably shouldn’t have been looking for him in Japan. In fact, maybe she should have even checked the exact place that she last left him?
Seo Hwa is stupid and Wol Ryung probably should have saved himself this heartache and just fallen in love with me instead….
Meanwhile our main couple are getting reminded (again and again by everyone around them) that if they stay together one of them may die, as foretold by their mate The Monk. Presumably this means Yeo Wool may die, considering that she is the only one who isn’t totally immortal out of the two of them, and this causes some understandable friction between her and Kang Chi. After all, it is all good and well for Yeo Wool to decide for herself that she is willing to risk her life to be with him, but if that really is the only outcome of their doomed fate, then it is Kang Chi who would actually have to live on by himself knowing she had died because of him.
Which means it is time for the Noble Sacrifice and Kang Chi ends their relationship in order to potentially save Yeo Wool from a potentially possible future threat.
But luckily for all involved the Noble Sacrifice only lasts until Kang Chi heads off for a chat with the Admiral Lee Soon-shin, who promptly asks him if he has considered what Yeo Wool fears most in this world? (…he is wise indeed.) And of course what Yeo Wool fears most is living life without Kang Chi, meaning Kang Chi immediately regrets his decision and so rushes back to apologise to her……but its too late, dum dum dum!
Yeo Wool’s second kidnapping was a pretty silly affair….the ridiculous (and very fake looking) Spiky Iron Ball Of Doom aside (what a dumb way to try and kill someone), the mysterious plan of Kang Chi’s where he asks Lee Soon-shin to trust him also made no sense. Basically it just involved the Admiral heading to the Hundred Year Inn with his army to capture the bad guy? Hang on a minute, why didn’t they all do that before?
Like at the very beginning of the drama for instance?
If it was that bloody easy to capture the evil Jo Gwan-woong, then why has everyone waited until now to do it? And what was this about Soon-shin having to ‘trust’ Kang Chi? I can’t understand why that silly plan even required trust? Or why it was even called a plan come to think of it….aren’t plans usually a little more tricksy then just turning up and arresting everyone?
Maybe I am missing something….
On the topic of Lee Soon-shin, I can’t help but feel like his epic goodness, wisdom and patriotic nature kind of missed the mark.
In saying that though, I do understand his role in the drama as (another) surrogate father to Kang Chi, someone who Kang Chi can trust and look up to as he dishes out advice whenever Kang Chi needs it most, but seriously I still don’t really understand why they chose him as a character instead of some other random old dude who could fulfill that role just as well. Except I guess to show how totally evil the bad guys all are for going against Korea’s biggest and most glorious hero.
Also, Master Dam? His reaction to the kidnapping of his daughter was absolutely atrocious (‘Forget about her!’) and made me lose what little respect I had garnered for him up until that point. I mean his angle was actually to just let her die in order to show the enemy that their evil tricks won’t work on him? What kind of a crazy stupid strategy is that? And his ‘sad’ face was really laughable, considering that it looked exactly like every other face he made during this drama…happy face, angry face, serious face…seriously who cast this guy?
Anyway all of the silly plotting aside, Kang Chi’s epic reaction to being told to forget about Yeo Wool was pretty romantic and passionate, and I felt like his words were very heartfelt. The fact that everyone else also decided to ignore the hell out of Master Dam and go looking for Yeo Wool even against his wishes (stupid man) was also a nice scene, especially in the case of Gon who had always up until this point done as he was ordered.
Gu Family Book Ending.
And then we come to the final conflict of this drama.
Jo Gwan-woong gets arrested and gets his hand cut off, which somehow still doesn’t feel like enough payoff for his horribleness throughout this drama. I am not saying I wished he had been tortured or anything but I do think it would have been nice to watch his horror at having his little empire come slowly crashing down around him. I would have preferred to see him on the receiving end of a little humiliation in the same way that he inflicted that kind of torture onto our main characters, such and Chung Jo and her family. It all seemed a bit too clean and quick somehow.
I liked that Chung Jo went to visit him at the prison only because if her relationship with this terrible man had just ended with no final conversation it would have broken my heart, just because I do not think she would ever have gotten any sort of emotional closure on this awful period of her life, a series of events which were all totally this one mans fault.
However I still do not necessarily agree that she made the right choice in giving him poison, only because it does save him the humiliation of standing trial and having to publicly face up to his crimes, though in a way I guess Chung Jo’s own small brand of closure was more important to her then a wider drawn-out revenge. I feel like this one decisive action also gave her back a small semblance of feeling like she had control over herself and her circumstances, though this is not really the case of course. From now on Chung Jo must continue to be what the world has made her, a Gisaeng, even though the Inn now belongs to her family again, a truly sad truth about the times she lived in and the lack of control and choice she has in that society.
So I feel like her actions boil down to one thing, though she obviously doesn’t really have any control at all (she is still a Gisaeng for life considering her virginity and purity has been lost and she is now a fallen woman) but at least she can feel like she made a choice and followed through on it and I hope that will give her a chance to be at peace within herself.
To be honest I hated Chung Jo’s whole storyline. There was never any redemption for her character nor any way for her to have a happy ending (the best she got was resignation to her totally shithouse fate) and this was a very hard thing for me to accept. I wanted so much more for the beautiful Chung Jo and demand a sequel drama with her as the star, to take place after the events that this drama finished with. Let her also find love again and realise that first love is not the be all and end all, just like Kang Chi did. Let her find a man who doesn’t give a crap that she is Gisaeng, he just loves her for who she is.
Which is a pretty damn fine woman!
Gu Famly Book Final Ending and Thoughts
Now….what to say about the ending? Crazyness ensues basically. It really really does and I am totally unsure exactly what I feel about it.
I think Yeo Wool’s death was quite well played out in the ‘pulling the heartstrings’ avenue and it was actually quite sad and touching to watch. The lead up to her death and the quiet conversations she shares with Kang Chi were very affecting and emotionally upsetting, her actual death truly saddening because it made me feel for all the characters around her that were touched and illuminated by her presence amongst them. With her death, everyone loses out and that was quite a sad thing to see.
The saddest part for me though was after the act, when Kang Chi has made the decision to leave everyone behind (and totally not look for that Gu Family Book which has been the whole point of everything ever in this drama but is suddenly deemed completely unnecessary….) and as he leaves Yeo Wool’s home for the very last time, it is that image of her empty room with the tiny flower still sitting there that really stayed with me long after the scene had played out, really emphasising her absence by the oddness of her space in the world being now forever empty.
This scene really made me ponder the deep sadness of losing someone close to you, the absolute horror that once they are gone that spot in the world that they filled will forever remain empty. So truly sad.
Aaaaand then we flash forward 422 years into the future to find out that Kang Chi is now a happy little Chaebol living a happy little Chaebol life in modern-day Seoul. (And he has the reincarnation of his surrogate father working for him as his butler……which seems a little demeaning.)
But the thing I don’t get is, why is Kang Chi so damn happy? Hasn’t he basically been living alone for the last 422 years? Didn’t he get lonely? Isn’t he all angsty and bored by living after being alone for so long? Hasn’t he almost given up hope that he will ever see Yeo Wool again by this point? Come to think of it, can he even remember what she looked like after so long?
But I guess they ran out of time to explore any of those questions, because next up we see Kang Chi meeting some more reincarnations of other past characters (but not all of them) in a flashy disjointed sequence which seemed to hint at a whole different drama. More like a slickly cool romantic comedy then the weird mix of fantasy, cuteness and sadness we have endured up until this point.
I feel like Kang Chi’s happy attitude and fun lifestyle really took away from what could have been a rather desperately romantic reunion between himself and Yeo Wool, the woman he has waited for 422 years to see again, and so in my opinion the actual meeting fell a little flat.
Also….did the reappearance of the peach tree and crescent moon mean that he is also bad fate for her in this lifetime as well?
I didn’t hate the ending, but really by this time I was already a little disconnected to the characters which made it pretty easy for me to just accept whatever crazyness they had in store for me. Which was probably a very good thing considering the ending the drama went with.
So I guess for my parting words I will say that this drama was not totally terrible and there were certainly some really good ideas and stories that I really enjoyed watching. It was cute and sweet and at times rather romantic. The OTP were lovely and the visuals of the show were really nice too.
Unfortunately though, there was also a lot of untapped potential with character depths and plotlines not really being explored to their full extent or even given a chance to blossom at all.
And also there was a lot of just plain stupidness as well.
WHAT DID YOU THINK?
Okay so my take away for this is, Chungjo forever! I adore her. I am not going to lie, I basically started writing my first Korean historical fiction novel because of that character! I wanted so very badly for her to be the star of her own story and receive the love and affection she deserves, even if she is a gisaeng!
So I guess I can thank Gu Family Book for driving me to write historical fiction set in Korea about gisaengs falling in love! Ha!
Also, I have taken from this drama that I will always adore Suzy, she crawled into my heart because of Dream High and I feel like that girl is such a charmer! I love her.
And finally, this was the drama that introduced me to Choi Jin-hyuk, one of my all time favourite actors! I love him!
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK??? What did you take from this drama??
Tell me how it made you feel!!!!!
Thank you for reading, please feel free to leave a comment below!
LEE EVIE is a podcaster, blogger and author of dark historical fiction set in old Korea. Discover Lee Evie’s historical fiction novels by clicking on the images below!