10 K-Dramas With Mythical Creatures We Wouldn’t Mind Hanging Out With
There’s something intrinsically magical about fantasy dramas, not only because they’re often quite epic in scale, but also because they provide a form of escape from our own generally less exciting daily lives. At the center of these fantasy dramas are the mythical creatures that draw inspiration from lores and mythologies around the world.
While some of these beings can be rather terrifying, K-dramaland has introduced us to more audience-friendly versions over the years — and because it’s K-dramas — these mythical creatures are naturally played by very good looking actors and actresses. So if the aim of these supernaturals is to bewitch us puny mortals, then consider us under their spell, because even if our necks or livers are at risk, we wouldn’t mind getting to know them on a more personal level.
So, get ready to be acquainted with some mythical creatures by checking out these dramas below:
Aliens in “My Love From the Star”
One of the biggest dramas of 2014, “My Love From the Star” stars Kim Soo Hyun as Do Min Joon, an alien who came to visit Earth 400 years ago but accidentally got stranded here. One day, the famous but flighty actress Chun Song Yi (Jun Ji Hyun) moves in next door to him, and he unwittingly becomes entangled in her shenanigans, even becoming her manager at one point. He uses his vast array of powers — including enhanced hearing, speed, and vision (and a very handsome face) — to help Song Yi when she’s in trouble. And when the two eventually fall in love, his abilities give him an upper hand when he needs to say sweet, sweet words to her.
Watch “My Love From the Star” here:
Virgin ghosts in “Oh My Ghostess”
Korean folklore ranks the cheonyeo gwishin (the virgin ghost) as one of the most feared types of ghosts. These ghosts come into existent when a female dies — you guessed it — a virgin, and are thus forced to roam around in bitterness and anger. While traditionally these ghosts are spiteful and more often than not hideous, K-dramaland has given them a makeover and turned them into more rom-com appropriate characters, such as in “Oh My Ghostess.”
In the adorably fun-to-watch “Oh My Ghostess,” Na Bong Sun (Park Bo Young) is a shy girl who suddenly goes all out in seducing her boss, chef Kang Sun Woo (Jo Jung Suk), after she’s possessed by virgin ghost Shin Soo Ae (Kim Seul Gi). Now we’re not saying we’re hoping to be possessed by ghosts, but if we were, and if they were as great a wing-woman as Soo Ae, and if it helped us land a guy as great as Sun Woo, then… I wouldn’t exactly say no, you know?
Watch “Oh My Ghostess” here:
Vampires in “Vampire Prosecutor” and “Scholar Who Walks the Night”
Vampires have long been a part of mythologies around the world, and while each culture’s depiction of vampires may vary (some even glimmer in the sun *cough*), they’re all pretty much in consensus that vampires are a bunch of good-looking bloodsuckers. But because murder is generally frowned upon, modern works have also given vampires a conscience and have them use other sources of blood rather than straight from the (fresh) vein.
The titular vampire in “Vampire Prosecutor” is one such non-murderous vampire. Yeon Jung Hoon plays Min Tae Yeon, a prosecutor who is bitten and turned into a vampire when chasing down a suspect. While he does come to terms with what he’s become, he still opts to feed off of dead bodies instead. This even becomes a crime-solving tool for him, as he’s able to learn more about the victim from the taste of their blood. This super sleek, super stylish drama reminds us why we can never get enough of them sexy vampires. (And the universe knows we can’t get enough because there’s a season two for you to sink your teeth in!)
Watch “Vampire Prosecutor 2” here:
For something a little more traditional, K-dramaland offers “Scholar Who Walks The Night,” where a Joseon-era scholar is the one who is turned into a vampire. But Kim Sung Yeol (Lee Joon Gi) isn’t just any regular vampire. No, he’s the one who’s responsible for keeping other vampires in line, and as such is allowed to walk under the sun as long as he has his special SPF-friendly robe. And he’s not the only memorable vampire here. The antagonist — an ancient vampire named Gwi (played by Lee Soo Hyuk) — is so alluring, we easily find ourselves falling under his spell and wishing that we could meet him (from a safe distance).
Watch “Scholar Who Walks the Night” here:
Mermaids in “The Legend of the Blue Sea” and “Surplus Princess”
Jun Ji Hyun lands herself again on our list, but this time as a gorgeous mermaid. But unlike the little red-haired mermaid that we’re all familiar with, there are no sea witches or trading of legs involved. Instead, we have a slightly ditzy mermaid who delights us with her (literal) fish-out-of-water antics.
We follow her on her journey as she searches her for her long-lost love, whom she eventually finds in a very handsome grifter (Lee Min Ho). This is one beautifully shot K-drama which makes everything feel suitably fairytale-like, and takes us back to our more innocent days of dreaming about mermaids. And honestly, having Shim Cheong’s abilities such as erasing memories and turning tears into pearls can come in handy, yes?
Watch “The Legend of the Blue Sea” here:
Before “The Legend of the Blue Sea,” there was “Surplus Princess,” a story more closely related to the Hans Christian Anderson original. Like the OG little mermaid, the one here (played by Jo Bo Ah) too falls in love with a two-legged man, and she steals a potion from a witch so she can become human. However, she later learns that she only has 100 days to find true love or else she’ll dissolve into bubbles and go “pop”! Now, be warned that this is quite the campy drama, and even though the tone does settle in after the first few episodes, you may still find yourselves wide-eyed every once in awhile. But hey, you wanted mermaids? You got mermaids! (On the plus side, there’s a painful-but-in-a-good-way Second Lead Syndrome, and it’s only 10 episodes long).
Watch “Surplus Princess” here:
Goblins (and grim reapers) in “Goblin”
The dokkaebi, though translated into “goblin,” is quite different from its western counterparts. Rather than being small in stature, malicious, and having a hankering for gold, Korean lore depicts them as having god-like abilities. Indeed, our perceptions of goblins are turned on their heads once we meet the goblin in, well, “Goblin.” And though Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) possesses supernatural abilities such as telekinesis or control over the elements, it’s his dashing personality and his ability to love so deeply that made us fall for him.
And let’s not forget Kim Shin’s bestest buddy, the Grim Reaper (Lee Dong Wook) — a mythical being we’re likely to be more familiar with. There’s been quite a few portrayals of grim reapers in K-dramas over the years, but none have been as adorable or have left a bigger impression than “Kim Woo Bin.”
Watch “Goblin” here:
Nine-tailed foxes in “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” and “Tale of the Nine-Tailed”
Gumihos, or the nine-tailed fox, are mythical creatures commonly heard around East Asia. They often take on the form of beautiful women who easily lure in their prey then feast on their livers. Though like vampires, the good gumihos in K-dramaland steer away from this “stereotype” because surely we could all do without a visual of our beloved hero or heroine eating a bloody piece of liver. And in the bubbly rom-com “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho,” Shin Min Ah brings so much heart and human vulnerability (and adorableness) to her gumiho that it’s easy to find yourself wanting to befriend her.
Watch “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” here:
We see more gumihos in the more recent “Tale of the Nine-Tailed,” though this time they flip the script and have them take the form of men (though they are just as beautiful). And in the case of Lee Yeon (Lee Dong Wook), he’s more powerful than the average gumiho because he’s lived for over a thousand years and he’s also a former mountain spirit. These special abilities of his, which include super speed, control over certain natural elements, and fast healing, all come in handy when protecting the only woman he’s loved in these one thousand plus years.
Watch “Tale of the Nine-Tailed” here:
Sun Wu Kong in “Hwayugi”
Sun Wu Kong is originally a character from the 16th-century Chinese novel “Journey to the West,” and since then he’s made a significant impact on pop culture, making appearances in Chinese movies and dramas, and even being the inspiration for the character of Son Goku of “Dragon Ball.” Recently, K-drama adapted and told their version of this odyssey, with Lee Seung Gi playing the mythological Sun Oh Gong. This version is just as mischievous and shares many of the same powers as the OG Sun Wu Kong, and as long as he isn’t trying to consume you (you know, to amp up his powers), you’ll be sure to be entertained with him around.
Watch “Hwayugi” here:
Currently watching: “Tale of the Nine-Tailed,” “The Spies Who Loved Me”
All-time favorite: “Kill Me Heal Me,” “Defendant,” “Hotel Del Luna”
Looking forward to: “City Couple’s Way of Love” starring Ji Chang Wook and Kim Ji Won