‘Goblin’ K-Drama: Gong Yoo And Lee Dong Wook Characters’ Bromance Reason For tvN Series’ Popularity? [Spoilers]

In less than two weeks, Total Variety Network (tvN) K-drama Goblin has dominated both domestic and international viewership. Also known as Guardian: The Lonely and Great God or Goblin: The Lonely and Great God, the first episode alone already earned itself the best K-drama tvN has aired for the year simply because it did better than Reply 1988, the series that previously held the title.

Eventually, Goblin surpassed other prominent 2016 K-dramas. These include the currently airing Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) K-drama The Legend of the Blue Sea, a series marking the comebacks of both Jun Ji Hyun and Lee Min Ho, and the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) international phenomenon K-drama, Descendants of the Sun. Such is surprising simply because Goblin airs on a Korean pay channel. And on a side note, it is also surprising that Kim Go Eun, the female lead of Goblin, even starred in it. Given the backlash Cheese in the Trap received, which is the first K-drama Go Eun has ever starred in, it would be understandable if she never worked with tvN ever again. However, here she is playing Ji Eun Tak in Goblin.

To be frank, there are many reasons why Goblin is so popular. The phenomenal acting, the unique story, the direction, the fact it is Gong Yoo’s comeback to K-dramas after four years to name a few. However, there is one detail about Goblin that is standing out reports will not cover but fans of the K-drama who watch it are noticing: the bromance between the characters played by Gong Yoo and Lee Dong Wook. Could said bromance be the primary reason why Goblin is so popular now?

Goblin Episode 1 -- Kim Shim And Wang Yeo Live Together
In the first episode of "Goblin," Kim Shim and Wang Yeo find themselves co-inhabitants of Shim's home thanks to Yoo Deok Hwa. [Image by Total Variety Network (tvN)]

[WARNING: Spoilers Ahead! Skip to Second-to-Last Paragraph to Avoid!] The bromance between Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) the goblin and Wang Yeo (Lee Dong Wook) the grim reaper started to form in the first episode when Shin recognized Yeo as a grim reaper and Yeo recognized Shin as a goblin through a brick wall. Apparently, both see each other with disdain. Things get worse for Shin when Yeo moves in with him, a deal that was made through Yeo and Yoo Deok Hwa (Yook Sung Jae), Shim’s companion and rebellious chaebol heir. Needless to say but Kim Shim and Wang Yeo’s distaste for each other makes for some interesting encounters, especially at the dinner table.

Goblin Episode 2 -- Kim Shim and Wang Yeo at Dinner Table
Even though Kim Shim and Wang Yeo are co-inhabitants of Shim's home, they are usually on odd terms with each other. In one particular scene in episode two, they try to one-up each other proving who is the "alpha." [Image by Total Variety Network (tvN)]

Despite their constant bickering against each other, it seems that Kim Shim and Wang Yeo are able to put their squabbles aside to take care of business. Case and point: when Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) is kidnapped near the end of the second episode. She prays to Shim to save her in which he does. However, he is also accompanied by Yeo. Apparently, the scene of both Kim Shim and Wang Yeo walking towards the vehicle Ji Eun Tak is being held hostage in was heavily discussed among fans (shown in the video attached above).

It is believed that the bromance between Kim Shim and Wang Yeo started to change from rivals to one of a hyung and dongsaeng (older and younger brother in name often used between two males who are close to each other) at the beginning of the fourth episode. It leaves off at the end of the third episode in which Kim Shim learns that Ji Eun Tak is the “Goblin’s Bride” and that she can see the sword in his chest. It should be noted that only the Goblin’s Bride can see and remove the sword from the Goblin’s chest so he can die in peace. Anyways, after Shim realizes who Eun Tak is, he actually starts to lose his facade of being cool, calm, and collected now that he’s “facing his own mortality.” As a result, he confides in Yeo on such a matter.

"Goblin" Episode 4 -- Kim Shim Realizes He Told Ji Eun Tak About Sword
In the fourth episode just after Kim Shim, Wang Yeo (invisible to everyone except Shim), and Yoo Deok Hwa spend time in a noodle shop, they cause a scene outside when Shim realizes he told Ji Eun Tak about the sword in his chest. [Image by Total Variety Network (tvN)]

Wang Yeo, being the negative pessimist that he is towards Kim Shim, lets Shim know that when he is ready to die, he will personally escort Shim’s soul to the afterlife. However, Shim, as mentioned earlier, has doubts about dying despite living so long. Ergo, he keeps certain things unknown to Ji Eun Tak. That seems to be a failure as he gets drunk one night and almost tells everything to Eun Tak during a “date.” This includes her purpose of pulling out the sword in his chest. The next day at a noodle restaurant, Shim realizes what he did and freaks out much to Yeo’s delight. Since Yeo is invisible to everyone at that moment, Shim just looks like a crazy person especially in front of Yoo Deok Hwa who is accompanying him.

There is more to the bromance than what was explained, but there seems to be more of a dynamic between Kim Shim and Wang Yeo, more so than Kim Shim and Ji Eun Tak. Fans of the K-drama, me included, have taken notice of this though it seems the primary romance is starting to build. It probably builds to the point that Shim is comfortable to die as seen in the teasers at the end of the fourth episode.

Ultimately, the bromance between Kim Shim and Wang Yeo might be one of the major reasons why Goblin is so popular right now, but it isn’t the sole reason. As mentioned earlier, the acting, direction, and unique story also play a part as proven by the viewership ratings provided by AGB Nielsen Korea and TNmS Media Korea. The third episode seen the highest viewership ratings for the former at 12.471 percent for the nation and 14.274 percent for the Seoul National Capital Area while the latter recorded 12.0 percent for the nation. The fourth episode seen a switch as the former recorded 11.373 percent for the nation and 13.768 percent for the Seoul National Capital Area while the latter seen the highest viewership ratings so far recording 12.7 percent for the nation. Once again, tvN is a Korean pay channel, so any of its shows reaching double-digits in viewership ratings is a rarity.

Goblin airs on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. KST on tvN. For those who do not have access to Korean pay channels, the series can be watched online, pending region. For the Americas, it is exclusive to DramaFever as Goblin: The Lonely and Great God. It is free to watch with the exception of the latest two episodes being exclusive to Premium members up to a week after airing. For everywhere else, it can be viewed for free, with ads, on Viki.

[Featured Image by Total Variety Network (tvN)]