K-Drama Review: “Tale of the Nine Tailed” Tantalizes With Fantasy Narrative Albeit Its Conflict-Bombarded Plot

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Running on a problem-laden plot, all to claim an elusive romance – Tale of the Nine Tailed closes neatly fulfilling its hero’s ultimate yearning.

Separately, the fantasy and the romance are both engrossing. But fusing the two overwhelms inevitably. Its reference on Korean folktale, superstitions and mythical beliefs sure add to its engrossing drive.

However, the arduous journey of its lead pairing reached a point that as a viewer, you can no longer feel, if it is worth fighting for. Down the last four episodes, petitioning to Kim Yeomra seemed like a plausible cause.

Because seriously, Lee Yeon does not have grand dream, but to be with the woman he loved in his long lifetime, so why was it so hard to achieve it?

Title: Tale of the Nine Tailed
Network: tvN
Themes: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Length: 16 Eoisodes
Broadcast Date: 07 October 2020 – 3 December 2020
Main Cast: Lee Dong Wook | Jo Bo Ah | Kim Bum | Hwang Hee | Lee Tae Ri | Kim Yong Ji | Kim Jung Nan | Ahn Gil Kang
Highlights: Infused Korean folklore | Strong Cliff-hangers | Bromance | Lee Dong Wook |
Overall Rating:
Rewatch Value:
Related Dramas: A Korean Odyssey, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God | My Girlfriend is a Gumiho |

Episode Recaps: 01 & 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | Mid-Series | 09 – 12 | Review |

Quick Plot Summary

Lee Yeon (Lee Dong Wook), is a former mountain deity who has been mingling with humans while waiting for his reincarnated first love. Eventually discovering Nam Ji-ah (Jo Bo Ah) as the one he has been waiting for, they have to defy their cursed romance and an evil monster who caused her demise in the first lifetime they shared.


Lee Dong Wook

With his arresting features, Lee Dong Wook secures permission to go for more mythical character as iconic as his portrayal of a grim reaper, and now, a modern day nine-tailed-fox. We can hardly complain especially if he goes to varying shades of gorgeous, even more I think than his My Girl days.

Adding to his charm as gumiho Lee Yeon is his romantic side that even the afterlife higher-ups bow down to. Who wouldn’t love a powerful creature as patient as Lee Yeon to become his lover? Ruminating on his character deeply, he reminds us that happiness is something that we work to achieve.

It isn’t served in a beautiful plate. It defeats the preconceived notion that gaiety comes with little joys. Because in reality, happiness does not come as easy as it seems.

Lee Yeon’s tough journey to reach a content state by sealing Ji-ah’s imoogi-free-life came at an agonizing prize of losing his brother. As one of the key characters in the series, it can’t be helped to wish him luck in gaining his simple dreams.

Lee gumiho siblings’ bromance

Parading a bickering bromance, Lee brothers gifted us the best of unbridled and mesmerizing male gumiho charms. Rooting for them to clear the misunderstanding is but normal especially since their bromance is sometimes even more felt than the real romantic relationship in the story.

Kim Bum’s mercurial character blandly induces hate because even without the narrative explaining their back story; it’s really hard to harbor resentment when you see his lazy smile. More so, when he can’t express his rebellious streak to his hyung as an equivalent to his fear of losing him. *wink

A highlight in the series is Rang’s sacrifice. It also clinched his redeeming moment, a pardoning act to the wrongs he committed paving a way for a chance for him to be reincarnated.

Lee Yeon & Ji-ah’s Love Journey

Sans the ostensibly taxing love fulfilment, the sweet highs of discovering their love and renewing it became the essence and bane of Tale of the Nine Tailed.

How can Lee Yeon and Ji-ah be unlucky to meet again after so many decades and go through the same problem again? And no, raising the “fantasy card” does not alleviate the course of the narrative.

These are my thoughts prior to watching the finale episodes. In the end, I compromise to its romance realization of celebrating love once you found it. Because for some people, it might not happen in the lifetime they wish to claim it.

Thrilling Interweaving of Korean myth

If you have been a fan of Korean fantasy dramas, Tale of the Nine Tailed is easy to navigate since you have previous dramas/films you can look refer to. For newbie watchers, you don’t need to feel daunted since the series patiently explained everything.

Leading quite an embellished narrative with details for the viewers not to get lost, it ultimately settled to the last hurdle thrown by the nefarious villain. His link to Ji-ah and his dream to own Lee Yeon’s body. Both pointing to the simple meaning of destructing the love pairing’s united dream of being together.

In dealing with its side conflicts like Ji-ah’s mission to claim back her parents; interesting mythical characters were also introduced. It helped in powering strong cliff-hangers every episode.

Representing a character deprived of love, the villain imoogi signifies another resonating message in the series. That is acceptance that you can change for the better. Like how Rang and Yuri did, but the imoogi refuses to aspire.

Tale of the Nine Tailed Series Afterthoughts

Honestly, Tale of the Nine Tailed is packed with twist and turns that makes its story engrossing to watch. But how it layered the urgency of the romance to be fulfilled is something that I did not feel standing out in the series.

It felt gratifying to see the main characters’ individual goals came true. Like how Lee brothers reconcile and Ji-ah’s reunion to her parents. Even Shin-ju establishing clear connection to Yu-ri has had me say yass! in the series. But the complicated romance drive might really test a viewer’s patience.

Nevertheless, its pumped up narrative takes the credit on how it reels the urge to cheer for the outcome of the series. Quite ironically, its underdog theme does not complement its pictured stalwart hero. But it fortified the unpredictability of the plot.

Lee Yeon’s Dream

Going maverick on its romance trajectory in a way helped cushion the moments when you felt bad at the painstaking tasks the love couple had to endure.

By taking the “emotionally battered and misfortune magnet” situation of Lee Yeon, who only has a simple love wish, the series subconsciously locked the viewers hopeful of anything but a happy ending.

Delivering well to their supporting roles, the human and non-human cast of Tale of the Nine Tailed were given moments that jive well in the narrative. Especially the forged loyalty bond of Lee brothers to Yu-ri and Shin-ju.

Apart from that, the relatively big cast, even the special appearances, serve their purpose well. You can easily identify their respective spotlight moments in the series.


Reaching a happy-ending closure after all the sacrifices, Tale of the Nine Tailed gives a mixed feeling. You might be drawn to its fantasy premise, but not feel attracted to its romance fulfilment. Or, you feel the romance, but gets frustrated with its rich reference in Korean mythology, complicated plot and even the present pandemic situation.

Strangely, the serving of all’s well that ends well can’t quite add up to its toilsome narrative. But, the parade of quirky and emotional portrayals of its main leads compensate effectively to minor inconsistencies, leaving a gratifying impression.

My biggest takeaway in the series apart from the patience to endure in claiming true love is the concept of loyalty. That faithful devotion we create either by blood or affinity was pictured vibrantly in the series akin to the trademark of a nine-tailed fox.

Building connection only matters if it is mutual. You don’t need a big circle of connection; sometimes a close circle serves the purpose even greatly than we imagined.

We saw the unselfish deals and sacrifices made by the characters were driven by the weight of affection. Love that springs from the shared memories and being there when it matters.

If standard sweet romance is not right in your alley, then you might be charmed when fantasy kicks mix in. Try exploring Tale of the Nine Tailed, for quite a fascinating treat.

Relive the beautiful moments of the series through the original soundtracks below.

Photos: tvN

Videos: Stone Entertainment

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