The Formula to Become Human – My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox, Part 3

Continuing our discussion of the novel based on the Hong Sisters’ TV show My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox (김성연,홍정은 & 홍미란의”내 여자친구는 구미호”), I’m sensing the influence of “The Matrix” a little. Do you want the red pill or the blue pill? Chapter 5, “The Vanishing 9-Tailed Fox,” begins immediately with Daewoong wondering about the sun shower. Miho has some unpleasant encounters with strangers in the meantime and locks herself in a public restroom, forcing everyone to knock on the door to get her to open it. Employees of wherever she is go to get the key. Finally, Daewoong shows up, but she doesn’t want him to see her.

When she finally comes out, they go back to the action school to eat and talk about Daewoong’s career goals, what action is exactly and his audition. At some point, they are out walking, and Miho smashes a wall in annoyance. They meet a man with a beer whom Daewoong recognizes as Director Ban, the head of the action school. He’s wearing his trademark trench coat, which makes him resemble the star of a Hong Kong movie. Ban is Seonnyeo’s father and the man Daewoong must audition for since he’s directing the movie “The Moon and the Swordsman.” Daewoong sees Director Ban’s zipper is open, and both he and Miho are shocked.

An older woman in nightclothes in the building near them also sees him and screams as the wall collapses. In the next scene, the woman is filing a police report against Ban for indecent exposure, though Ban tries to defend himself by saying he was just relieving himself. The police are skeptical and try to get him to pay damages for the wall, but Ban is insistent. Daewoong jumps in and says he saw the whole thing, trying to keep Miho from admitting she was the one who accidentally damaged the wall with her supernatural fox strength. Director Ban thanks Daewoong for his help after this situation with the police is resolved, and he discovers Daewoong is a friend of his daughter’s and studies at the school.

The next day, Daewoong teaches Miho how to wash up, including how to use the shower and brush her teeth. She ends up eating the toothpaste instead and has other mishaps. He tries to get her to act like a human, and she tells him there is a way she could become human. At this point, Daewoong has her jewel again. One thing that I can’t keep straight is when he has it and when he doesn’t. That’s particularly hard for me to follow for some reason. Anyway, she is out on the roof thinking about taking out her jewel, but she doesn’t want that to be the end of the situation with Daewoong. She wants to stay by his side even if he doesn’t have her jewel anymore, and she tries to think of how she can do that.

Later, Miho is looking again for the free coupons for a local chicken shop, and an older woman sees her going through the garbage, which she thinks is shameless for a young lady. She wonders if Miho is a foreigner and glares at her.

Miho meets Dongju again near the subway, and he reminds her again that they aren’t human, runs down his complete list of stats, including his role as veterinary hospital director, and asks if she wants to see where he lives. When they arrive at his house, it is bare. Not one painting is on the walls, and it is odorless and colorless. He tells her he has to change his job and residence often since it looks strange otherwise. She asks how long he’s been doing that, and he says for a long time, longer than her captivity in the painting. Miho’s resolve hardens, and she tells him she also wants to live in the human world like he does and asks for his advice. He admits he has to live with no connection to anyone, no friends, family or lovers. She senses how painful this is, and she tells him she can’t live with humans forever like that. He asks her coldly if she’d prefer death to returning to the temple. She is a little flustered, never really thinking living forever would be a problem.

Finally, he tells her that she can become human if she receives the energy of a human when she’s dying. She thinks of Daewoong. Dongju takes out his fox-hunting sword and shows it to her. He smears its edge with his own blood and says his blood is able to kill her if she drinks it. She would receive the energy from a human through her fox jewel. Miho is speechless and shocked by his revelation. He repeats himself that if she drinks his blood for 100 days while receiving a human’s energy through her fox jewel, she can become human. His eyes are cold when she asks why he’s telling her this. He says it’s because she reminds him so much of Gildal, the woman he mentioned when they met at the department store. She asks if Gildal became human, then about the 100 day incubation process of the jewel, but he is doing something with a cup on the dining room table. He doesn’t answer her but mentions she should have Daewoong help her, though she shouldn’t trust a human. She only knows she wants to stay by Daewoong’s side and wonders if this is possible.

Daewoong goes to see Director Ban in his office to discuss his audition. Ban says his action scenes are dangerous and wonders if Daewoong will be able to keep up. He says he can. Ban tells him to report the next day for the read through. Daewoong is a little confused about the casting, and the producer questions the need for Daewoong. After their meeting, Daewoong runs into Byeongsu and Seonnyeo, who congratulate him on the movie role and joke about how he’s going to be a star. Hyein also appears and congratulates him and suggests they all go out for a celebration dinner that evening. Daewoong thinks of Miho waiting at home for him and his promise to have dinner with her. Seeing his hesitation, Hyein asks if there’s someone else he wants to celebrate with. He says his grandfather, and she agrees he should.

Next, we see Daewoong at his grandfather’s house, talking about the movie. His Aunt Minsuk says something about Director Ban, and they want to know how she knows him. She’s a single, older woman, and grandfather suggests she go see Director Ban at the action school under the pretext of saying thank you for Daewoong’s role. She’s a little flustered by this. They talk about ET the movie for some reason I couldn’t quite figure out, but the context was his grandfather suggesting he bring Miho over to meet them.

Meanwhile, Miho is walking around town, looking with longing at the humans she sees around her who seem happy and less lonely than she feels. She’s in turmoil over the episode with Dongju’s blood. Hyein calls Daewoong while he’s at his grandather’s to see about still going out with him somewhere, though she understands he feels a heavy responsibility where Miho is concerned. He says he owes Miho. Hyein asks Daewoong if he likes her, but he says he doesn’t like Hyein even though it’s a dream come true to have her interested in him. When he gets home later, he is drunk and feels terrible. He rather harshly asks Miho to leave, which gets her upset.

Chapter 6 starts with him waking with no memory of the night before or how much he drank. Miho isn’t there, and he wonders where she went. He keeps yelling for her and can’t find her, only her coupons. Miho is out wandering the streets again, crying. Even though the weather is fine, it starts raining, which clues Daewoong back at home as to what has happened. He wonders how this rain thing works for arctic or desert foxes. He ends up meeting Hyein instead, and they have sodas. A lot of this chapter is Daewoong out celebrating with friends talking about becoming a star while Miho is alone brooding about Dongju’s scary proposition. She couldn’t have picked a more self-absorbed guy to help her.

Miho goes back to see Dongju, who has a blue bottle with her jewel in it. She cautiously accepts the bottle. He wonders what she will do if Daewoong refuses to help her become human, but his question hurts her, and she says she won’t ask him. She takes the bottle of Dongju’s blood out of her bag. Seeing the bottles together, she knows she has to choose either the crimson bottle with his blood that will make her human or the blue bottle with her jewel that will send her back to the temple. He tells her to take her time.

Daewoong signs his movie contract then goes out with Byeongsu and Seonnyeo. They talk about how he won’t be able to take public transportation when he’s a star, and he thinks about what car he would like, though he would need to earn money or borrow money from his grandfather to get one. While they are talking, Daewoong is hit by a motorcycle, and they rush him to the hospital. Looking at the ex-ray of his arm, the doctor asks if he has been in a serious accident. Daewoong thinks of Miho’s jewel. He mentions he’s working on a movie and has no pain, but the doctor says that’s only okay if it isn’t an action film. He thinks over everything while he’s waiting at the hospital with his friends.

Meanwhile, Miho gets money from Dongju to go out and get some meat. She spends more time looking at the crimson bottle and thinking about how she’d like to be human like the happy people she sees around her. Miho is the only one alone, and she longs to be connected to other people. This makes her rather depressed.

Daewoong talks to Director Ban in the production office, and Ban insists he can’t postpone the bone-breaking sword practice he has in mind for Daewoong. Since Daewoong hasn’t seen Miho at home, he calls the temple with the fox painting to see if she returned, and he was told the fox was still missing from the painting. He can’t figure out where Miho has disappeared to.

Miho stops at the chicken shop where the older woman she saw there before was. This Mrs. Kang talks to Miho about her husband before Miho continues on to the action school, and she smells Daewoong coming toward her. They both are happy when they meet, and they have a soda together. They talk about him taking the jewel back, and he says the jewel will make him feel refreshed. She says she doesn’t have the jewel but to wait while she fetches it. This scene cuts off rather abruptly, but this turns out to be fairly effective when we reach the climax at the end of the chapter. In the interim, Daewoong goes to visit his grandfather and aunt to talk about the film and avoiding injury, meeting Hyein at the department store for dinner, having a couple ring in his bag and a chicken leg pillow for Miho. Hyein questions him about his health because Seonnyeo told her he was dropping out of the film, and he tells her not to worry. The couple ring ends up deep in his bag, and he doesn’t give it to her.

The next two scenes that end the chapter are really intense and interesting in their execution. First, Dongju has made steak for the first time to serve Miho. Miho is happy that Daewoong has her jewel again, but Dongju wonders if he can stay away from other women for 100 days. She says she trusts him, but he mentions Gildal and the way she too loved humans and was betrayed in the end. Gildal disappeared, and Miho can die. Most of this scene has continued references to the red and white wine cups on the table that they move around between them, which is interesting symbolism and parallel to her choice of the blue and crimson bottles. When he goes to wash one of the cups, he comments about her and Daewoong’s death, smiling a cold, derisive smile. Miho must still be in the other room when he does this, the setting is a little vague, but I think it adds to the feeling overall in the book of Dongju seeming much more sinister and troublesome. Perhaps he wants to hurt her now that she has rejected his lonely lifestyle when she is perhaps the only being around who can really ease his own loneliness. Hopefully, we’ll see more of his background. I still have no idea why his blood is important or what kind of supernatural creature he is exactly. The TV show says later he’s a half-fox, but it doesn’t elaborate.

The final scene of the chapter shows Daewoong returning to the warehouse with an uneasy feeling. At first, Miho isn’t there, but when she appears, he’s overjoyed. She takes out two bottles, one of which is blue that she says holds the jewel. He looks at the blue bottle. She asks him if he is willing to incubate it, reminding him that he can’t mix with another woman’s energy while he has it. He says he understands and promises to protect it. She asks if he can do it for 100 days, but he balks. That’s too long, he objects. If he can’t be with other women, doesn’t that make her his girlfriend? Yes, Miho says. She asks if he wants her to become his girlfriend, and he says he doesn’t. After they discuss it awhile, Daewoong puts the couple ring on her finger and declares her his girlfriend for the next 100 days. At the end of this proposal, Daewoong takes the blue bottle, Miho the red, and they sit across from one another on a wooden bed, lifting their bottles high to toast each other before they both drink them down. The chapter ends there, a perfectly dramatic place to stop. That was the best chapter so far, and I really like the way this storyline is presented in the novel.

Part three of a five part series.

About Lady Xiansa

Lady Xiansa is a writer, linguist, artist, and dancer. She has been a core volunteer for the Silk Screen Asian Arts Organization from 2007 to 2018 and has provided content for Pitt JCS anime events since 2011. She has taught both ESL and Beginning Korean. Her gothic horror novel, The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak, won the Bronze Award for Young Adult Fiction E-book in the 2016 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards and earned the 2018 Story Monsters Approved Seal in the Tween Category.
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