Goblin is a fantasy romance about a modern day goblin (Gong Yoo) who seeks to end his cursed immortal life and needs a human bride (Kim Go Eun) to do so. His life then becomes intertwined with a grim reaper (Lee Dong Wook) who is unable to remember his past. But when the goblin finally finds his bride, he suddenly realizes he wants to live and be with her.
Goblin is an epic tale with a story that spans centuries. It was quite an interesting ride filled with some amazing characters, talented actors, and a fresh and unique story woven beautifully throughout each episode.
I really love seeing a kdrama with such a heavy fantasy concept. It creates a full mythology surrounding the characters and how certain things work. That makes discovering this world and its secrets very interesting.
Visually, Goblin is absolutely stunning. And so much detail went into setting up the shots and individual scenes. It was all done very artistically. The drama also filmed several scenes in Canada that featured some breathtaking scenery.
There are some very impressive shots in the opening episode featuring an intense battle during the historical portion and a huge ship caught in raging waters. The historical portion as a whole had a very cinematic quality to it that was also very gripping right from the start.
Gong Yoo plays our cursed Goblin, Kim Shin. There are many different sides to Shin’s character, and Gong Yoo played them all perfectly. He’s a brave and fierce warrior in the historical portion where he finds himself at odds with the king.
In the present, he is lonely and weary from his long life, but meeting his Goblin bride brings out his more carefree and fun side. And Gong Yoo delivered plenty of intensity portraying the emotional journey Shin goes on throughout the drama.
We then have our Goblin bride, Ji Eun Tak, played by Kim Go Eun. Kim Go Eun was very endearing as Eun Tak. She was bright, adorable, and full of life. Her youthful exuberance is like a ray of sunshine that warms up Shin’s heart. It’s easy to see why our Goblin falls hard for her.
Her reason for existing has always been to break the Goblin’s immortal curse. But she is unaware that breaking that curse will cause Shin to disappear into nothingness. She has a difficult road to travel in her love story with him.
Lee Dong Wook is our Grim Reaper. I have a soft spot for Lee Dong Wook, and I absolutely loved his character. He has such a commanding presence that instills power and fear, yet he easily transitions to a sort of awkward and bumbling character.
I loved watching him navigate the modern world and dating life so awkwardly. He’s such a genuine guy, and I couldn’t help but root for him to succeed. But he has some difficult truths to face. Lee Dong Wook drew me in with his powerful display of emotions. He has such an intensity that hits me on a deep level.
Yoo In Na was lovely as Sunny. She seems a bit bored with life, but things really liven up for her when the Grim Reaper shows up doing all of these things she finds strange and fascinating.
I do think both Yoo In Na as an actress and Sunny as a character were terribly underutilized in the first half of the drama with very little screen time. Luckily, she is able to shine in the second half.
Yook Sung Jae did well as Yoo Duk Hwa. His family has served the Goblin for 900 years. He’s immature and a bit spoiled, but he has a good heart. He was a nice addition to our Goblin family.
My favorite parts of the drama were the more dramatic aspects that focused on the story surrounding Shin, his back story, his curse, and how everyone was connected to that.
The story is very rich, and I loved delving deep into it. The drama sets up the story very well with high stakes and plenty of questions. While it does take a while to get answers, once we continue deeper into the story, the drama just gets better and better.
The drama does include a lot of humor which is something I greatly appreciate, but it was also sort of a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I thought they spent a little too much time on basic character interactions without a whole lot of forward plot development in the first half of the drama. Ideally, I would have liked more of the meat of the story to be better dispersed throughout the drama.
But on the other hand, the characters are all so interesting and likable that I couldn’t help but enjoy their fun interactions that included some hilarious and awkward moments. A lot of the humor is also very dry with a deadpan delivery which isn’t my favorite kind of humor. I usually prefer when one character is more deadpan opposite a more exaggerated reaction.
In the beginning, Shin and the Grim Reaper are mostly the deadpan style. Initially, that made it more difficult for me to warm up to them. But the more I saw of their interactions, the more comfortable I became and the more hilarious I found them to be. As the drama progresses and they grow more comfortable with each other, their humor also became more of the fun and goofy style that I like. And that produces some truly hilarious scenes!
Which brings me to our bromance. Shin and the Grim Reaper are such a fantastic duo. They start out hating each other, but end up living together. We then see a fun rivalry develop. I loved watching them go head to head whether it be trying to annoy each other or having silverware battles. They were too fun!
Eventually their rivalry turns into a reluctant partnership as they try to protect Eun Tak and find happiness for themselves when fate seems to be against them. And finally, a close brotherly sort of friendship develops. I loved their little heart to hearts with each other and the bond that developed between them.
Gong Yoo and Kim Go Eun were a really sweet and fun couple. Their relationship has such a strong importance right from the beginning. Eun Tak was able to warm up the lonely Shin’s heart, and he was able to provide her a family.
Lee Dong Wook and Yoo In Na had a very intriguing relationship. It was much slower to get going, but once it does, I was fully on board. I loved their chemistry, and my heart ached right along with these ill-fated lovers.
Things really pick up story wise in the second part of the drama. We learn all the details of how Shin, Grim Reaper, and Sunny are connected. We have Sunny as the reincarnation of Shin’s sister, Sun, and the Grim Reaper as King Wang Yeo. And how tragic it was that Wang Yeo was responsible for the deaths of Shin and Sun.
It was heartbreaking to watch as the Grim Reaper had to cope with what he had done in the past as his memories eventually returned to him. He was such a different person from who he was back then.
It was so sad to see the Grim Reaper suffer through immense pain and guilt from what he did in his past life. I was thoroughly moved by Lee Dong Wook’s performance. It was so heartfelt, and he completely drew me into his pain.
Of course, when Shin learns that the Grim Reaper is Wang Yeo, tensions run high. Shin had carried around this hurt for 900 years, and now the man responsible for his suffering was right before him. It was difficult watching the two men’s relationship become so strained.
But when the time came for Shin’s curse to be broken, and the magical sword was removed from his chest, everyone was in for a difficult reality. Shin disappeared into nothingness while Eun Tak’s memories of Shin were erased. She went on with her life, but she always carried a deep sadness.
But that inner love and longing for Shin was eventually enough to pull him back from nothingness to the real world. Shin was grateful to be back, but saddened that no one remembered him.
But it turns out the Grim Reaper remembered. It felt very poetic that since the Grim Reaper was the only one who remembered Shin, he felt welcomed by him, and that past connection drew them back together. Grim Reaper was able to truly apologize for his past actions, and Shin was able to finally forgive him. And the bromance returns!
As for the ending, I was mostly happy with it. It was an ending filled with much sadness mixed in with a bittersweet joy. Everyone eventually remembers Shin. Grim Reaper and Sunny were never able to be together in their current life because their past hurts were just too strong to overcome.
But when the Grim Reaper’s punishment was over and Sunny passed away, the two went on to the afterlife together. Thankfully, years later, the two are reunited in their next life where they are finally able to be together and be happy.
Shin and Eun Tak are finally reunited, and she actually does become the Goblin’s bride. They were finally happy, and it was all very sweet. But tragedy struck when Eun Tak gave her life to save others. As a ghost, Eun Tak asked Shin to wait for her to return in her next life.
The lonely Goblin lost his bride, his friend, and his sister and was forced to wait alone. But finally after many years, the reincarnated Eun Tak showed up one day with her memories still in tact. The two would finally be able to be together.
Goblin is a unique drama in the kdrama landscape. Its rich fantasy story that intertwined everyone’s fates was done very eloquently. Each character is memorable and engaging and completely brought to life by all of the talented actors portraying them.
It’s an epic story of love, friendship, and forgiveness that tugs at the heart. It’s a poignant and moving drama that definitely left a lasting impression.
My Rating: 8.5/10
If you’re interested in owning the drama, you can buy it on DVD here: Goblin – The Lonely and Great God Korean Drama DVD
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