What a show to end 2017! I’m loving every 80+ minutes of the debut ep.
- Cha Seung-won (from You’re All Surrounded) as Woo Hwi-chul. The Bull Demon King. In the original folklore, he is both Wukong’s friend and nemesis. In Hwayugi, he is the long suffering frenemy of Oh-gong’s.
- Lee Seung-gi (from You’re All Surrounded) as Son Oh-gong. The deposed Monkey God who is “serving time” on Earth. He is released by Sun-mi, and promised in return to come to her aid — as long as she calls out his name (which he removed from her memories).
- Oh Yeon-su (from Come Back, Mister) as Jin Sun-mi. A successful real estate businesswoman who uses her “talent” to see spirits in her professional field.
25 years ago, Sun-mi (a girl who can see spirits) was tricked by Hwi-chul to release Oh-gong from his 5 Fingers Mountain prison. In return, Oh-gong promises a young Sun-mi that he will come to her aid anytime she calls his name. Problem is, Oh-gong removed the memory of his name from Sun-mi’s mind, renegading on his “promise”.
Current day: Oh-gong lives witb Hwi-chul, and tries to earn Brownies points with the Gods (in order to return to his General rank in Heaven) by exorcising evil spirits. Hwi-chul also tries to clean up his act and attempts to be “nice” in order to rise up to Heaven (he’s a demon originally and needs work to shed his evil past). As the CEO of an entertainment company, Hwi-chul is so nice to the young trainees he is often laughed at for being a “softie” and “an over-the-top nice guy”.
Meanwhile, the demon and God worlds hear of a reincarnated Xuanzhang (the Monk that Wukong et al. accompanied in the original folklore), and are all restless — cos eating Xuanzhang guarantees immortality and an increased in powers.
As for the spirits seeing Sun-mi, she grows up and adapts to her condition, using her talent to suss out “unclean” real estates or turning them into “good” (unhaunted) properties. But she hasn’t forgotten about Oh-gong and his “promise”. He literally crosses paths with her one day, but Sun-mi claims she has “no need” of his help at all…
…only to run into an evil Bride Puppet spirit who manages to cut her and lure the entire city’s ghouls and demons to her house.
Who cares if Hwayugi is 80+ mins long each ep? (to set records straight, only ep1 is 80+mins) I can’t get enough of the 2 “Seungs”, and…WELCOME BACK Seung-gi sshi! Being Chinese, I am familiar with the Chinese Odessey, which Hwayugi is based loosely on. While Wukong eventually played a great role in aiding Xuanzhang on his scriptures’ quest, he was a character that was impish and difficult to control. Oh-gong is similar in nature. Though he is NOT a demon, he walks the tight border between a deity and an evil spirit. So it isn’t surprising he plays out young Sun-mi, and later wants to eat the reincarnated Xuanzhang (aka Sun-mi).
But the funniest is Hwi-chul, the original folklore has him lusting for Xuanzhang and being a Demon Overlord, he is power- hungry. In Hwayugi, he is reformed Mafia Boss, trying his best not to kill or eat people who cross him. And oh man, I die laughing everytime Cha Seung-won does this bullish impersonation, with matching Moo-Moo background effects.
Given this is one of the famed Hong Sisters’ dramas, I am keeping fingers crossed on Hwayugi’s mix of the supernatural with romcom. (the Puppet Bride is already sending Chucky Bride’s chills down my spine)