Close your eyes for just a few seconds and think of a goblin. Chances are, you pictured a small, hideous, malicious, creature. Am I right? Would you believe me if I told you the goblin in this story is a tall, handsome, charismatic, man? Well, hold on to your hat because you’re definitely going to want to Kiss [this] Goblin.
Ban Sook, a good-looking goblin, is given the opportunity to become mortal, and all he has to do to achieve that end is kiss ten human beings and extract their emotions. But the task won’t be as easy as it sounds since there is an exorcist after Ban Sook, one who intends to kill him. Luckily, the naïve goblin meets a dissolutioned-with-love undergraduate student named Oh Yeon-Ah who is willing to help him on his quest. However, the whole undertaking may prove more difficult than expected since no goblin has ever become human. Will the unlikely duo be able to keep their mission on a platonic level or will Ban Sook’s new emotions make their task too difficult to achieve?
Ban Sook is a 160-year-old Forest Goblin who wants to become human so he will no longer be alone. His becoming mortal is only official once he’s kissed ten girls and has absorbed a different emotion from each one. At first, Ban Sook is pretty much just an empty shell but the more feelings he acquires the more human-like this goblin becomes. His goal seems like it will be quite easy to achieve until the Goblin Queen informs him that after he has kissed someone and taken her emotion, his goblin energy will help a powerful exorcist locate him – an exorcist that has been charged with protecting humans, and whose sole duty it is to kill goblins that come into the human realm.
Oh Yeon-Ah thinks of herself as a diligent person who aims to have an ordinary life. She had blissfully been part of a campus couple until the day she saw her boyfriend cuddling with another girl. Although she immediately broke things off with him, she is still nursing a broken heart which has proven to make her very cynical about love. There is a really nice guy named Ji Seung-Heon that likes Yeon-Ah but he has given no indication of his feelings for her and she simply sees him as a good friend. Yeon-Ah thinks Ban Sook is just a shallow Casanova until he begins to work with her, at a restaurant/bar called the Copper Room, and confesses he is a goblin. Of course, she thinks the young man is simply making up stories but, seeing is believing, and she soon comes to realize that he had told the truth. The more emotions Ban Sook learns about and internalizes, the more Yeon-Ah comes to like this fantasy-like goblin.
This charming webdrama’s entire cast was completely new to me. There wasn’t a single person I recognized but I found two actors I’d like to see again – Bae In-Hyuk, who plays Goblin Oh Yeon-Ah, and Moon Ji-Yong, the exorcist. Both of these men did a superb job with their characters and I hope to see them take on bigger roles in longer dramas very soon.
As I just mentioned, the part of Ban Sook is played by Bae In-Hyuk. It’s no wonder I wasn’t familiar with him – he only debuted this year (2020), in fact, he’s been in four dramas -all airing this year. Impressive, indeed. In-Hyuk is 22-years-old and apparently a student at Seoul Institute of The Arts.
Jeon Hye-Won, the gal who plays Oh Yeon-Ah, is also 22-years-old and fairly new on the acting scene. She was in the 2018 film Champion, credited as “female high school student 1,” but hey, it still counts as being in a movie, right? She’s also been in a couple dramas where the characters she played actually had names.
In this story, we are told goblins were once humans, but have no memory of their time on earth. So just how does a person forfeit their human-ness and become a goblin? Well, luckily the Goblin Queen explains, “When someone’s wounded heart keeps getting torn and ground up, and that wound gets unimaginably deep, that person becomes a goblin, bearing deep resentment.” Unfortunately, we’re never told how and why they are given a chance to become human once again so it’s up to your imagination to fill in that part.
According to the Goblin Queen, “Emotions are complicated, weird, and painful.” So are you curious as to what ten emotions Ban Sook has to “learn?” I had originally thought of listing them for you but then decided it would be more fun for you to discover them on your own – the audience is told what they are, one at a time, as he kisses the girls who are his “mission.” It’s quite fun to see how Ban Sook handles each emotion as he acquires them, one by one.
This is a fanciful, unique, imaginative story that is very much like a fairytale.
The elements of a fairytale are…
Good Character who is helped by others (Ban Sook aided by Yeon-Ah)
Evil Character (the exorcist)
Royalty (the Goblin Queen)
Poverty (Yeon-Ah is a poor, hardworking college student)
Magic and Enchantments (Ban Sook’s goblin energy)
Reoccurring Patterns/Numbers (ten kisses)
Special Beginning and/or Ending Words – hummmmm?
The only thing Kiss Goblin is missing, in order to be considered a fairytale, is a “Once upon a time…” beginning.
When I watched First Kiss For the Seventh Time I was expecting to see at least seven kisses, I mean, after all, the word kiss was in the tile. Admittedly, the show was packed with tons of romance but I was surprised it was entirely void of kisses. Kiss Goblin, on the other hand, lives up to its name – lips still and barely touching, lips moving and mouths open – this webdrama really delivers. So, if you put this one on your Kdrama list solely because of the word kiss, you won’t be disappointed.
Each of Kiss Goblin’s 12 episodes are around 12 minutes apiece so the show isn’t a big time commitment. Although the length is good for what the writer wanted to convey, I wouldn’t have minded a bit if it been stretched out in order to add more details. The scenes of Ban Sook and Yeon-Ah becoming more familiar with each other are so cute – shopping, folding laundry, changing a lightbulb, cooking – it would have been fun to see more of that kind of thing. Also, we are told precious little about the Goblin Queen and even less about the exorcist. Their personal stories would have been interesting to watch. More detailed information about Ban Sook’s back story would have given him more depth, and Ji Seung-Heon’s history with Yeon-Ah would have been nice to see. Sadly, the show has a definite ending so a Kiss Goblin 2 is pretty much out of the question.
There is only one song in the show – My Time, sung by Rosy. It’s an excellent, slow rock ballad, perfect for this story.
Grocery store, university campus, restaurant, Ban Sook’s apartment, playground, coffee shop, tunnel, the Queen Goblin’s cool-looking office-type area… this very short webdrama filmed in so many places! I was very impressed.
Once upon a time, there was a girl who tried to help a goblin become human. So does it end with “…and they lived happily ever after?” You’ll have to watch it to find out. Kiss Goblin is a superb Korean drama fairy tale.
Actors Bae In-Hyuk and Moon Ji-Yong
Ban Sook and Yeon-Ah’s chemistry
Not a huge time commitment
Nothing I can think of