Hello and welcome back to another Korean drama review! It has been years since I started watching Kdramas and I never seem to run out of cool dramas to watch. The industry is impressive for putting out amazing content consistently.
Tale of Nine Tailed is also called Tale of the Nine-Tailed Fox and Tale of the Gumiho.
what is Tale of the Nine Tailed about?
Lee Yeon, a gumiho, used to be a powerful mountain god until his mortal true love died. He bargained with the higher powers for her reincarnation in return for his service. 600 years later, he is still waiting for her to be reborn and hunts supernatural criminals who threaten the mortal world.
Nam Ji-ah is a clever and brave TV documentary producer who works on myths and unbelievable stories. She also looks exactly like Lee Yeon’s true love, prompting him to question whether she is his lover reincarnated.
Ji-ah lost her parents as a child in a freak car accident where she was left without injuries—and the memory of something that should be impossible—while her parents just disappeared into thin air. When she finds out that Lee Yeon is supernatural, she convinces him to help her find her parents.
But there are other things looming over their lives. The world is full of supernatural beings walking amongst humans and Nam Ji-ah and Lee Yeon have to save themselves, their loved ones, and the world.
my thoughts on the drama
Although I mostly enjoyed the drama, I have many conflicting feelings. I’m not sure about my final verdict yet. Hopefully writing out my thoughts will help me decide.
- The main concept is really good.
Disguised as a romance and a thriller, Tale of the Nine Tailed is actually a drama that includes many Korean myths and interconnects them. It also places the creatures from the myths in the modern-day and shows them continuing life after the events of legends have passed.
It’s very interesting to think that creatures from these legends walk among us and have petty fights amongst themselves which sometimes escalate and hurt mortals in what we call “freak events.”
- The characters were fun and interesting.
All the characters—supernatural and mortal—had distinct personalities and held their own on the screen. I especially loved seeing the foxes living as humans and seeing them interact. Their squabbles and subtly affectionate relationships especially got to me.
I especially loved Lee Rang and Ki Yoo-ri who had great character growth in the show. They started out as unapologetic foxes who caused trouble and slowly grew into completely different people.
The rest of the characters didn’t have much character growth which is one of my complaints. The two leads had barely any growth. Their stories were plot-driven and hence I didn’t like them as characters.
- The folklores are not explained in the drama.
As I had no idea about the folklores and legends included in the plot, I was quite confused throughout. They never take the time to give a brief about any of the stories. I would have appreciated a little bit of intro to the legends that are prominent, at least.
- The main plotline was interesting?
History begins to repeat itself for Lee Yeon and Nam Ji-ah due to something that Lee Rang stirred up. There is a proper fight between hero and villain with a girl in the middle.
It was interesting but also quite cliché. The fight was nice and all but it was quite predictable especially towards the end. The ending is supposed to be the best part where twists can come up but the twists weren’t that great and the ending was SO predictable.
- I didn’t like the main romance.
Honestly, Lee Yeon and Nam Ji-ah were ANNOYING. I could bear with them for a while but it got repetitive and boring after a while. I could care less about them.
After a point, I couldn’t even ship them together. They didn’t have any chemistry! It felt like the only reason they’re meant to be is because of the past life. And the more danger she was in, the more they were pushed together. It was quite exhausting to watch.
- The secondary romance was awesome.
Koo Shin-joo, Lee Yeon’s loyal friend, falling in love with Ki Yoo-ri was THE SWEETEST. They’re an opposites attract couple where he is sweet, kind, and like sunshine, and she is the badass gumiho with baggage.
Their romance slowly developed overtime and it was so sweet to watch. They’re my favourite couple.
- I loved all the platonic relationships.
There were so many great platonic relationships! My favourite was the sibling relationship between Lee Rang and Lee Yeon. Mostly because of the growth that Lee Rang went through with this relationship.
The relationship between Lee Rang and Ki Yoo-ri was also really nice! Theirs is a very different relationship than normal and I loved it.
The drama also has a found family aspect that slowly builds over time. It made me so happy at the end.
- The banter between all the characters was fun.
The drama has several characters due to which we see multiple types of relationships—and all of them have really good banter. It was so fun to watch them having petty fights over things like ice cream and food.
This is the thing that made watching the show bearable even through the boring and repetitive parts.
- There were plot holes and clearly underdeveloped plotlines.
Nam Ji-ah is the producer of a TV documentary series where they cover creepy stories and myths and legends. We are told many times that their show is rated very well but we don’t see them actually working much.
Nam Ji-ah spent so much time running around and doing her own thing. We saw her and her colleagues working barely four times. And we saw them shooting footage maybe 2 times. I’m supposed to believe that they put out weekly (at the least) episodes which were high quality?? With the way they shoot footage? Please.
Lee Yeon is a typical hero. He is privileged, nice, and pines over one woman faithfully. He literally hunts criminals in modern-day life. His flaws are either too small and endearing or they’re revealed to not be flaws at all.
While he barely had any growth in the drama, he was nice to watch. Especially because of his almost-bratty attitude. It was fun to see him love his ice cream and sulk about minor inconveniences.
Lee Dong-wok plays Lee Yeon and was PERFECT for the role. His acting was on-point and his looks totally suited the character.
Nam Ji-ah is a badass and clever woman who doesn’t wait to be saved all the time. She takes things into her own hands and forges through difficulties. I loved her confidence and bravery, especially when facing off supernatural creatures and villains.
Her only wish is to find her parents and live a quiet happy life with them. Even when her idea of the world is changed and her life is threatened, she forges on to find her parents.
Jo Bo-ah played Nam Ji-ah so well. Her acting skills are really good. She nailed all the characters required for the show. The facial expressions matched the dialogues perfectly.
Lee Rang was my favourite character. He starts off as a villain who causes tons of trouble especially for Lee Yeon because Yeon abandoned him when his first love died. Lee Rang also lost a lot as a child and Yeon abandoning him pushed him off the edge.
But Lee Rang grows and changes throughout the drama. He is a morally grey character with the best character arc. I absolutely loved seeing his storyline and learning more about him.
Kim Bum played Lee Rang so well down to facial expressions which said way more than dialogues.
Koo Shin-joo is the sweetest character. He ran away from his mountain god and Yeon protected him so Shin-joo vowed to help Yeon forever. He honestly coddles Yeon a lot but loves doing it.
Shin-joo, played by Hwang Hee, works as a vet to assimilate into society and omg we love a man who talks to animals and has fun conversations with them. He is unwaveringly good and kind throughout the drama but didn’t fit into the “hero” stereotype as well.
Ki Yoo-ri is my second favourite character. She used to be caged in a zoo in Russia where she was abused. Lee Rang saved her and brought her back to Korea and set her up with a nice life. Hence, she always listens to him and follows him around.
Yoo-ri is badass and reckless, especially with killing and hurting people, but she is a huge softy underneath and just needs the right people around her. I loved her.
Can you tell I have a thing for morally grey characters in dramas? Ki Yoo-ri is played by Kim Yong-ji who did such a good job and I hope I see her in future dramas.
discussion (INCLUDES SPOILERS)
If you don’t want to get spoiled, click here to skip to the “overall” concluding section.
Firstly, can we talk about Jo Bo-ah’s acting?? Kim Ji-ah and Ah-eum are not hard characters to play but when the switch to the serpent came, Bo-ah did SO WELL. The smile, the voice tone, the looks—it was all perfect. She actually did not resemble Ji-ah when acting as the serpent.
Second, I LOVED the found family aspect! Lee Ranj and Ki Yoo-ri getting to have a family where they love each other well and spent a ton of time together is my happy ending. Whatever happened after that was nonsense and I will not accept it.
The ending was so predictable, honestly. Right from Yeon sacrificing himself to take the serpent with him and Lee Rang exchanging his life for Yeon’s reincarnation. I HATE that Lee Rang had to die in order for Yeon to come back. He finally had everything! And a “sad element” to the show was NOT. REQUIRED.
Speaking of Lee Yeon coming back, Lee Rang died in exchange for Yeon’s reincarnation. So how did he randomly show up one day looking the exact same? He would have had to be born and age normally?? But he came back soon enough for Ji-ah to not have aged at all.
And Yeon said that he’s HUMAN and we get many scenes of him having human problems like back pain and bad teeth. But in the very last scene, his eyes glow again?? Like a fox’s???? I went “what the hell!” seeing that.
Because let’s be honest, it doesn’t make sense. He was able to use his sword and get his eyes to glow, and he did it with the intention of hunting a supernatural being. So he randomly hunts now? Without having to report to the higher powers? And he can turn on and off his abilities when he wishes? And I’m supposed to accept that?
Before Yeon came back, we had an entire montage of Ji-ah shooting scenes with the idea of making an episode about Yeon. And she actually interviews Lee Rang and films all the foxes with the idea of SHARING IT WITH THE WORLD. Was that real? Was she serious? And they agreed???
You’re telling me that after everything, they’ll agree to put their faces out to the world and admit that they’re supernatural beings only so that Yeon and his life will be known by the people? Oh PLEASE. Sure.
My ending is the one where Lee Rang and Yoo-ri are happy with their family. That’s the only ending I need. Let Yeon be dead and Ji-ah be sad. I don’t care about them. The last episode doesn’t exist for me. No, thank you.
The writers could have easily done something else to bring Yeon back instead of the mess they handed us which barely makes sense. The drama was actually quite good until then and the ending ruined it all for me.
I can understand that it was done with the idea to kill someone to fulfil the sad/death quota in order to break viewers’ hearts. But it was clearly done badly, almost as if it wasn’t in the original plot and was written in later. It was a messy job and I do refuse to accept it.
What is it with good dramas not having good endings? Damn sad.
It is a good fantasy drama. If you want something fantasy with a huge danger element and action, go for this. If you want a clear hero and a villain, and also characters in between, go for this.
If you hate bad endings to dramas and it ruins the entire experience for you, don’t go for this. The drama is fine until the ending.