Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama Review

Hwayugi Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi, Oh Yeon Seo, Cha Seung Won

Hwayugi (also known as A Korean Odyssey) is a fantasy romantic comedy loosely based on the Chinese novel Journey to the West. The drama moves the story to the modern day where the trouble making Monkey King (Lee Seung Gi) is exiled to the human world because of his corruption. He seeks to restore his status by devouring a special woman (Oh Yeon Seo) who can see spirits. But a curse gets in the way, and the two end up working together to battle evil spirits as they face death and fall in love.

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi

Lee Seung Gi is back and better than ever! I’ve waited such a long time for him to return to my screen, and he did not disappoint in Hwayugi. He plays our trouble making monkey king Son Oh Gong. He’s mischievous and self serving.

And it takes someone like Lee Seung Gi to play a character like this in a way that makes him fun and charming. It was impossible not to like him and root for him despite his not so good qualities and the fact that he wanted to eat our leading lady for his own gain. What can I say, his appeal overrides all of that, hehe. So thrilled to see this wonderful performance by Lee Seung Gi!

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Oh Yeon Seo

Oh Yeon Seo plays Jin Seon Mi. She’s had to deal with having the ability to see spirits her whole life. This has made her into a feisty and independent woman. But after encountering Son Oh Gong as a child, she has always hoped he would come back and protect her.

Though after years of waiting, she is not so thrilled when she finally meets him again. I greatly enjoyed Oh Yeon Seo in this role as she has that fun spark and lively spirit that she brings to her characters.

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Cha Seung Won

Then there’s Cha Seung Won as Woo Ma Wang, the Bull Demon King. He’s on a personal mission which is why he stays in the human world and also has a rivalry with Son Oh Gong. Ma Wang is incredibly quirky yet very strong and firm.

And oh my does Cha Seung Won bring him to life! It’s one of those times where you have a hard time picturing someone else in the role. He completely throws himself into the character and is absolutely hilarious! He made me laugh so many times, and I just never knew what to expect from him.

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Hong Ki Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee El
Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Sung Hyuk Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Se Young

And the drama is jam packed with fun and interesting characters of all sorts. We have our Pig Demon PK (Lee Hong Ki) who is a pop star at Ma Jong’s entertainment company. He’s a lively character that is plenty of fun. Then there’s Ma Jong’s secretary Ji Young (Lee El) ready to jump at his every command, especially if it involves killing someone (which ironically, it never does, lol).

We have the Winter General and Summer Fairy (dual roles by Sung Hyuk) who offer guidance to our group. Then there’s our beautiful zombie Bu Ja (Lee Se Young). She’s a humorous one with her awkward zombie reactions and decomposing body giving her issues. Of course, there are lots more. They are all just a fun group for sure!

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi

Hwayugi definitely fits the bill of being a romantic comedy with horror elements. It’s heavy on the fantasy with it’s demons, ghosts, magic, and curses. A lot of special effects are used in the drama which I greatly enjoyed. It really gave it that fantasy feel in a strong way. Some of the ghosts are pretty creepy too.

The cinematography as a whole was wonderful! This is one gorgeous drama to look at and included some beautiful sets. And as to be expected from pretty much any Hong sisters drama, there is a great soundtrack with some very catchy songs that were well utilized.

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi and Cha Seung Won

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi and Oh Yeon Seo

Hwayugi has an overarching story, but it progresses slowly without a very strong narrative. But it does get stronger towards the end. It then follows mini ghost stories as the characters jump in to solve the mysteries and get rid of evil spirits.

This is something I wouldn’t always enjoy, but Hwayugi created such an entertaining world that it didn’t matter. All of the individual stories and elements were interesting and engaging. I just loved the characters and the fantasy world, and I was pretty happy just spending time in it.

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Oh Yeon Seo Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi
Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Oh Yeon Seo

Hwayugi really is an enjoyable drama on many levels. There’s a lot of fun to be had when there are various magical demon creatures that want to eat Seon Mi but can’t because of different reasons. It certainly makes for some humorous scenarios!

And that includes our monkey king Oh Gong where the fun mixes with the serious. He wants to eat her, but a curse causes him to unwillingly fall in love with her. That means he can’t eat her and doesn’t want to cause her pain. But things aren’t so simple when it comes to this relationship. He loves her, but he knows it’s fake and he hates that. So while he loves her, he wishes she would disappear.

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi and Oh Yeon Seo

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi and Oh Yeon Seo

And things are complicated for Seon Mi too. As she gets to know him and he protects her and constantly proclaims his love for her, she too begins to unwillingly fall for him. The problem is that her feelings are real, and she knows his are fake. Talk about torture! It’s certainly an interesting dynamic at play.

Oh Gong and Seon Mi’s relationship is a bit of a slow burn. On one hand, he starts professing his love for her early on, but it’s because of the curse. So there’s a lot of confusion as to just how much of his feelings are real.

But the relationship intensifies throughout the drama with some pretty intense moments in the latter third. They develop some nice chemistry at this point, and I could really feel the high stakes and their growing feelings for each other.

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi

Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi and Oh Yeon Seo

And everything really builds up nicely for the end. The overarching story as well as the character’s individual stories and relationships all come to a head to make for an all around exciting and impactful journey.

So all in all, I was quite pleased with Hwayugi. I waited a long time for it, and it didn’t disappoint. The fantasy world it created was rich and full, and it populated it’s world with some fantastic and interesting characters. The entire cast was absolutely fantastic on so many levels. It was a fun ride that I’m sad to see end. I really enjoyed myself and will miss these characters and this crazy magical world.

My Rating: 8/10

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About Kay

Greetings! I’m Kay, creator and author of Kdrama Kisses. Kdrama Kisses is dedicated to bringing you the latest in kdrama casting news, drama trailers, reviews, and more. Happy drama watching to everyone!
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20 Responses to Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) Korean Drama Review

  1. Fred says:

    Good to know it did not disappoint. But I hoped that it will get a 10 since I eagerly waited for this drama.

    Still contemplating on whether I will watch this or I’m Not a Robot since they both got an 8. I’m just too busy these past few months and I wasted – by not finishing – some good dramas (While You Were Sleeping, Girl Who Sees Smells, Ruler Master of the Mask, Delightful Girl Choon Hyang). All I do now is read your reviews and choose what to watch but not do the most important part: watch the drama. LOL.

    Hopefully I get to finish this one or I’m Not A Robot. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wendy says:

      I watched both, and it’s tough to choose between the two since I enjoyed both of them. But if I had to choose one, I would say to watch Hwayugi. Also whenever you have some free time, you should try to finish While You Were Sleeping, you won’t be disappointed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fred says:

        Thanks for you advice Wendy. I guess I will try to watch Hwayugi this weekend. I might have some free time. LOL.

        I also am planing to re-watch While You Were Sleeping in a few months (so I get to somehow forget the parts I watched). I know I won’t be disappointed. The writer is Park Hye Run. 🙂

        There are two drama “groups” that I eagerly wait for. The Park Hye Run group (Pinocchio, I Hear Your Voice, While You Were Sleeping, etc.) and the Hong Sisters group (My Girlfriend is A Gumiho, Hwayugi, etc.). So I eagerly waited for both While You Were Sleeping and Hwayugi. I really hope I don’t waste another good drama. 🙂


    • Kay says:

      Aww, sorry it didn’t get the big 10 to give you the for sure go ahead. Both Hwayugi and I’m Not a Robot are very good. Very different though, so it’s sort of hard to compare. Hwayugi has a lot of the Hong sisters elements that you would expect but with a stronger fantasy vibe. Overall narrative is a little weak, but I thought that the characters, world, mythology, and actors more than made up for it.

      I’m Not a Robot has a very solid story that builds and gets better as it goes. The romance is stronger in it too and Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin have fantastic chemistry. So yeah, both are good, lol. Just depends what you’re in the mood for. But maybe save the other one for a later date when you have more time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fred says:

        Thanks Kay. I really hope I will not be so busy this weekend. I might watch Hwayugi by then. But I am also contemplating on re-watching My Girlfriend is A Gumiho. I just really want to make a comment on your Review because there was a negative comment on it. I just feel bad because THE BEST DRAMA EVER gets only one comment and it had to be a negative one. So sad. I will have to defend Mi Ho. LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          You’re very welcome 🙂 I do hope you find some free time to enjoy Hwayugi this weekend. And of course you can never go wrong with a re-watch of My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. It’s sure to put a smile on your face and leave you feeling good 🙂 You know I agree with you…it is THE BEST DRAMA EVER!

          I would definitely love for you to comment over on that review. Since it’s an older drama, it doesn’t get as much love. Just a couple years ago, it seemed like almost everyone had seen the drama, but now a lot of newer drama fans haven’t and aren’t as inclined to check it out since it’s older. So having a positive comment would be great to balance things out a bit. We must defend Mi Ho!! hehe

          Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Kay & Fred!

        Thanks for the review Kay! I’ve not yet to watch the final two episodes, but i got to agree with your final rating. The overall narrative does feel a little weak. The chemistry of each pair-relationships were great, but unfortunately not for the main leads Seon Mi and Oh Gong. Maybe it was because on how their story were written – Oh Gong’s love towards Seon Mi were forced from the beginning and that Geum Gang Go always came inbetween of their relationship – that i’m not able to fully immersed and feel their love. Even watching Ma Wang and his lover, i could buy their relationship – his ache and longing for his lover, and desperation to finally break her cycle of hardships. But as a whole, like you said all the other characters really made up for what it lacks and made it very enjoyable.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          Hi! I really did enjoy Hwayugi quite a bit 🙂 Yes, the main negatives were the weak overall narrative and the slow building chemistry between the leads. I also think it was more because of how the story and their relationship was presented. Because I thought their chemistry by the end was pretty good. It just took a long time to develop. But yes, they an individuals characters, their story, the other characters, and the world more than made up for anything that was lacking. Overall, it was just a fun drama 🙂


          • Fred says:

            Just finished the drama. I agree. It was enjoyable but the overall narrative was a bit weak. It kind of veered to a few different places. Almost like my comments with W Two Worlds. But it ended well.

            It would also have been better if the Geumganggo was taken out sooner so we could see their relationship develop. It’s hard to take their relationship seriously when one is forced. LOL. But I finished the 20 episodes (including all the horror!!!!). I guess I can say it was fun. Though the horror parts really prolonged my watching since I stopped once it was already late at night and it was time for some ghosts. LOL.

            Time to watch I’m Not A Robot. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Kay says:

              Haha, I completely understand about the horror elements. I mostly enjoyed them in this drama since they were fairly low key, but no late night watching for sure 🙂 Yes, the overall narrative was definitely the weakest aspect of the drama in my opinion. It just didn’t have a clear path to get where it wanted to go. But like I said, I enjoyed the world and characters so much that I didn’t find it too bothersome.

              Although I too would have preferred the bracelet to come off a bit sooner, I was mostly okay with the romance since of course we as the audience pretty much know he really loves her. One of the benefits of knowing how most kdramas work, lol. I’m glad you’re going to check out I’m Not a Robot too. I think you will find the relationship aspect is much stronger with a lot of development in that one 🙂


              • Fred says:

                I just have this personal bias. Although I also like seeing female leads falling in love with male leads, it is really important for me that the guy treats the girl right. Like he should make sacrifices for her. In kdramas, this usually includes dying for the girl LOL. That is also why I do not really like dramas that include super asshole guys HAHA.

                And for me, the best scene in this drama was their last meeting. That was when he made her the happiest. That scene makes a grown man cry LOL. Oh well. That’s just me. 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                • Kay says:

                  Well, that’s a good bias to have, hehe. I definitely like that too. Although it’s okay with me if the guy is nice from the beginning or he’s a bit prickly and then falls hard for the girl and changes his attitude. I just don’t like it when the guys a jerk for like the whole drama. Luckily, that trend has died down some and there are a lot more nice guys around these days 🙂

                  And yes, that last meeting between them was amazing! That scene encompassed everything we wanted to see from the relationship and was packed with emotion. It was so good that a grown man should feel no shame in crying over it, lol. Kdramas just do that to you 😉


    • Cristina says:

      Aw not a 10? 😦
      I’ve been waiting for this drama to end so I can start watching. It’s not a heartbreaking ending right? I’m on episode 1 right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kay says:

        Not a 10, but it’s still really good! 🙂 Hmm, it’s one of those endings that people were a bit divided on. I was personally fine with it and thought it was very fitting. Maybe a mixture of sad and happy. I thought it wasn’t perfect but still fun 🙂


  2. fankdramas says:

    Love this drama, it always amused me. I waited and put together the two episodes to see them together. I will miss him too. Nice review Thanks Kay

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Glad you loved it too 🙂 It really was a lot of fun, and it was sooooo good to see Lee Seung Gi! I will be eagerly awaiting his next project 🙂


  3. Pingback: Korean Drama Update for March 2018 | Kdrama Kisses

  4. Jules says:

    I always wondered… Is it Seon-Mi or Sun-Mi? Because on that one chapter where Sam Jang made an ‘Instagram” account, she wrote “JINSUNMI” so that’s why I’m in doubt…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      It can be written either way. Some words get written multiple ways when translated from Hangul to English. Typically, “eo” is more correct with the romanization of Hangul in this case, but it sounds similar to the “u” sound in sun. So a lot of times a sound like this will be written in different ways depending on who is writing it on screen or who is creating subtitles. Hope that makes since 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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