Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sifting through popular streaming sites, including the one ABS-CBN sued for $8 million for copyright infringement, looking for the most watched Korean Drama in the region. Most of the sites I visited were consistent about one thing – they all show Goblin as one of the top dramas online.
I tried watching the first two episodes until I decided to dedicate a few hours of time in the next few days watching the remaining 14 episodes. Each episode runs for more than hour.
Written by the same guys behind Lovers in Paris, The Heirs, and Descendants of the Sun, the gothic fantasy fairy-tale, which carries the international title Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, revolves around the romance between the two characters played by Kim Go-eun (Cheese in the Trap) and Gong Yoo (Coffee Prince, Train to Busan).
Kim is Ji Eun Tak, a high school student who has a special ability to see ghosts. All her life, she’s been told by the ghosts whom she’s befriended that she’s the Goblin’s bride. Meanwhile, Gong is Kim Shin, a 900-year-old goblin and protector of souls who is in search for his human bride who can end his immortality.
Shot in stunning locations in Quebec, Seoul and some nearby provinces, Goblin is charming in each and every frame. The intertwined past and present day stories presented in the series are both tear inducing and heartwarming. Although the overall theme of the romantic drama is death and how depressing immortality can be, it also highlights how someone can live a beautiful life regardless of the person’s age.
Gong, as we know him, is a very effective actor. In the series, he lives in a lavish lifestyle but he cries every night for being left behind by the people he cared for. Imagine, he’s 939 years old and has gone through different levels of emotional circus. Gong is able to address the varied emotional requirements of his character be it in a light comedy scene or in a heavy drama.
Kim, on the other hand, makes Ji Eun Tak an-easy- to-love character. She’s able to deliver what the character asks for – a kindhearted teenager who masks her longing for affection by keeping herself busy.
Although crying in K-Dramas is hardly new, there are a few scenes that are so convincing the audience would want to console Kim for crying too much.
In these respects, it is safe to say that Goblin is a perfect example of a TV series that follows an interesting and an unconventional romantic tale made even more remarkable by the actors that play the main characters. No wonder its final episode recorded a nationwide audience share enough to make it the second highest rated drama in Korean cable television history. Additionally, the series has also become the most watched K-Drama through video-on-demand services surpassing the record set by KBS 2TV’s Descendants of the Sun and tvN’s Reply 1988.
In terms of critical reception, Goblin is also reaping numerous awards since its telecast ended. At the recently concluded 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards, touted as South Korea’s version of Hollywood’s Golden Globe, it walked home with three major awards including the Grand Prize for screenwriter Kim Eun-sook, Best Director for Lee Eung-bok, and Best Actor for Gong Yoo. At the Korean Cable TV Awards, on the other hand, the romantic fantasy series was awarded Best Drama and won three more awards.
Goblin, which aired from Dec. 2 to Jan. 21 on tvN, was telecast in Hong Kong, Macau, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore within 24 hours of its premiere in South Korea. And due to its massive following and great demand, ABS-CBN is airing the Tagalized version of the series on its primetime block beginning since last Monday.