Human or Monster? – My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox, Part 5


In this installment, I will conclude my look at the novel based on the Hong Sisters TV show My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox (김성연,홍정은 & 홍미란의”내 여자친구는 구미호”). This time I cover most of volume 2, which spent a lot of time with Miho in tears and a fair amount of discussion with the demonic Dongju about whether she can really trust her human lover and if human love is worth it at all.

Daewoong takes his dog Doongja to the animal hospital in disguise to get a look at Dongju. He doesn’t easily find the hospital because the name isn’t quite right on his guide, but when he arrives, he studies Dongju with some interest and pretends to be worried about Doongja’s weight. Dongju isn’t suspicious of him and tells him not to worry about the dog, telling him a few things he needs to do to better care for Doongja. Later, when he runs into Miho in the park, she objects to being introduced to Doongja as a fox. She asks about his grandfather, and Daewoong explains the reason for his grandfather’s anxiety about him: Daewoong’s mother and father died in a car accident. His grandfather doesn’t know about the healing power of Miho’s fox jewel, so he’s worried. Miho confesses her love for Daewoong and presses to spend time with him, but Daewoong returns to his grandfather’s house as quickly as possible, irritated.

Dongju intercepts Miho on her way back to the action school, and he takes her to a high-class restaurant for steak, where they spend more time discussing Daewoong. Miho confides in him, and he is tries to persuade her against any hope that she has a future with Daewoong. He asks her what she will do if he doesn’t want her when she becomes human.

Hyein becomes a larger presence in the book at this point, and she returns to Daewoong’s room to get the camcorder she left for him there. She sees the 100 day countdown calendar Daewoong has set up to mark off how many days he has left in his pact with Miho. Back at his grandfather’s house, Daewoong’s aunt and grandfather insist that he go to the hospital for an appointment with Hyein’s father who is a doctor there. His grandfather wants him to undergo a careful examination, and Daewoong agrees, provided that he is allowed to go back to filming the movie if the doctor doesn’t find anything.

Byeongsu and Seonnyeo take Miho to see him at the hospital, but Hyein intercepts her when they arrive, lures her to a room, and locks her in with the intention that she will have someone come and examine her. She’s suspicious and calls Miho a monster. Miho realizes that she is a monster in human eyes and refuses to be examined. She flees as soon as she can get the door open. Hyein blames Miho for Daewoong’s injury, but Miho says she isn’t evil and didn’t do anything to him. When Hyein tells her she should just disappear, her words stop Miho cold.

Meanwhile, Hyein’s father tells Aunt Minsuk that Daewoong is healthy. Minsuk objects, saying Hyein told her otherwise, but there’s really no reason to keep Daewoong there longer. After Daewoong returns to the warehouse and is having a beer on the rooftop, he wonders where Miho went. His cell phone rings. She is on the line and tells him she needs to disappear. Daewoong tells her not to go, reminding her how she kept saying she wanted to see him. He asks where she is, and she replies she is at the hospital. When they hang up, Miho is crying and wants to disappear before Daewoong finds her there. She runs into Byeongsu and Seonnyeo first, and they report that Daewoong’s examination went well and that he’s fine, then they invite her out to eat with them. While she’s with them, Daewoong calls and figures out she’s with Byeongsu, so he rushes to the restaurant, but I think he ends up meeting Hyein instead. This part gets a little confusing after he arrives at the restaurant.

Daewoong has a talk with Hyein about exactly why she saw Miho, and he is angry that she isn’t really answering his questions. Hyein mentions that the camcorder she took from his room had a recording of Miho with her tails unfolded. She asks Daewoong if Miho is really human. He is shocked and accuses Hyein of scaring Miho away from him. Hyein tells Daewoong that Miho is a monster, which makes him furious. Hyein can’t understand his reaction since Miho is dangerous. He warns her not to try to separate them. Only then does he see the sunshower, but Miho doesn’t answer when he tries to call her cell phone.

Hyein tries a few more times to get rid of Miho, and at one of their meetings, Hyein demands to know what Miho is doing to Daewoong, which forces Miho to explain about how her fox jewel saved him from death and healed him. Hyein realizes that’s why he’s not afraid of her. Getting an idea, Hyein takes Miho to Director Ban’s office where they try to convince Miho to help them with the movie. Hyein is the film’s heroine, and they decide Miho should become her stunt double. Daewoong arrives and tries to leave with Miho, but Hyein comments that she knows about the jewel, and Miho explains she’s now been hired as a stunt woman. He asks Miho if she’s sure she can do it.

Miho and Daewoong are at the warehouse apartment, going over a scene from the movie. The main characters of the movie, Manwol and Shinwol, are explained in a little more detail and are connected to the full and new moons. The moon symbolizes the couple’s love and fate. The scene they are rehearsing describes a woman bathing and rose petals falling. The woman is disrobing, showing her shoulders. Miho stops Daewoong at that point, objecting that he shouldn’t look at her. He tells her it really isn’t supposed to be an erotic scene and that this is where she comes in as the stunt double.

After they finish practicing the scene, Miho goes in search of Dongju because she needs to ask his advice now that Hyein has discovered her true nature. When she finds him, Dongju gives her an envelope with official documents in it for a human woman named Seonju Park. It is a driver’s license and other ID. Dongju reminds her that she will be able to live like a human, but she can’t stay with Daewoong.

Miho begins training as Hyein’s stunt double. Director Ban has a party planned for the crew, and Daewoong tries to explain to Miho what a party is, but she begs off, saying she’s going to see the chicken shop lady. But in reality she goes with Dongju to a party elsewhere to learn to pass herself off as Seonju Park. Dongju takes her to a hotel where she is given beautiful clothes and is coached on her new background as Seonju Park, preparing to mingle with people who are supposed to be her former classmates.

The scene then cuts to Daewoong at Director Ban’s party. Ban wants to know why Miho didn’t come along. Daewoong goes to the chicken shop and discovers she never went there, and she isn’t at home either. When she does appear, he demands to know why she didn’t come to the crew’s party, noticing she’s wearing a different dress. She says she was with Dongju and that she borrowed Seonju Park’s clothes. Daewoong asks if she’s a family member of Dongju’s. Miho apologizes for lying to him about where she went. He asks if mingling her energy with another man can damage the fox jewel he’s carrying since his interactions with other women are limited. He explains to her that the jewel reacts, feeling heavy and uncomfortable. Her meeting with Dongju could affect his health, he says, and tells her she has to stay at least 5 to 10 meters away from another man.

The movie begins filming in earnest. Hyein convinces Miho to take off her couple ring since the movie is a historical drama and it won’t fit the period costuming. Miho complies, but Hyein takes the ring for herself. When Miho gets on the wire, Daewoong is hanging around the set. Since Miho and Hyein are dressed the same, Hyein sees her chance to cause trouble, and she tries to kiss Daewoong. Miho falls because of the way this affects the fox jewel. The people on the set want to call an ambulance, but Daewoong knows she can’t go there and insists that she’ll be okay. They reluctantly agree to not call for the ambulance. Later when she has come to, Daewoong asks Miho if the jewel is harmed, but she says it isn’t that much. They argue a little about who is at fault, but when Miho refers to herself as a monster, Daewoong objects. He tells her she isn’t a monster and he doesn’t hate her. He notices she isn’t wearing her ring, and they decide to go searching for it.

Daewoong and Miho

Daewoong and Miho

They look in the dressing room a couple of times for it, and one of the times, Dongju is hanging around the set and formally introduces himself to Daewoong. They discuss Daewoong’s 100 day contract with Miho. There are a few subplots around this point that I’m going to skip that are covered in the TV show in some detail. When Daewoong finds Miho on the floor screaming in pain, he rushes her to the animal hospital to get pain medication from Dongju. This part doesn’t explicitly talk about her tails falling off, but I suppose that’s what is happening. Dongju realizes that there’s something wrong when Miho brings up her fear of water during one of their visits. Foxes don’t usually have a fear of water. Miho notes that her tails look like blue flames. He wonders what it means for a fox to have fiery blue tails. Dongju goes back to the little temple where Miho escaped the painting to try to figure out if perhaps the goddess used Gildal’s essence to make Miho and that’s why she has such a strange aversion to water.

Chapter 3 of volume 2 ends with Dongju taking Miho to a restaurant for her birthday. This is part of her education to become human since fox spirits don’t really know much about birthdays. Dongju keeps emphasizing that Daewoong will not be a part of her life once she’s human, and she demands to know why. Suddenly, Daewoong appears and asks who Seonju Park is once again. She explains it is her human name, which leads to a confrontation with Dongju over his preparations for Miho living as a human woman. The chapter ends with Daewoong and Miho confessing their love for one another over and over and Miho asking Daewoong if she can still be his girlfriend after the 100 days are up.

In the beginning of the next chapter, Miho prepares a life plan for Daewoong after the 100 days, including becoming his wife and having a baby. Daewoong isn’t that interested in it. It comes up on the film schedule that the crew is going to China to finish the movie for two months at the invitation of a Chinese director who is friends with Director Ban. Miho wants to go, but there seems to be a lot of uncertainty about whether she should or will.

I’m also going to skip the subplot where a strange ghost boy becomes fascinated with Daewoong having the fox jewel, but it is important for the plot to note that he spills the beans to both Miho and Daewoong that the fox jewel will kill Daewoong after the 100 days are up. Daewoong decides he should give the jewel back to Miho, and he collapses, but the exchange is made without either of them dying. At this point, Miho still has five tails and isn’t sure if she’ll regain the ones she lost or if she’ll continue to lose them. They still make plans to go to China. His grandfather overhears their conversation in the hospital and misunderstands what they mean when they are talking about the fox jewel. He thinks Miho is pregnant with his great-grandchild.

Daewoong finds Miho on the floor in pain again and has to rush her to the animal hospital, where Dongju explains how the human energy from the fox jewel and her fox energy are mingling and that she can die. They’ll know for sure when the remaining 55 days of their original contract have passed. If her tails don’t disappear in that time, she’ll survive. But she does lose more of her tails. Dongju supposes that she’ll probably die then when the 50 days are up. Daewoong wonders what is so great about being human that she was willing to take the risk.

Daewoong goes to China to complete the film, but the book doesn’t describe any of that. Only Seonnyeo and Hyein look at photos from the shoot and notice a woman in them who looks like Miho, which they find rather inexplicable.

While Daewoong is gone, Miho continues to practice passing as Seonju Park under Dongju’s supervision. It seems rather abrupt, but eventually Miho and Dongju go to a wedding shop to get a wedding dress, pick out wedding invitations and try to reserve a reception hall. At the reception hall, Miho and Dongju meet Daewoong and Aunt Minsuk who are there to reserve the hall for Minsuk and Director Ban’s wedding. They have already given Daewoong an invitation to their wedding, and even Hyein, Byeongsu and Seonnyeo are trying to figure out what the invitation means. They are shocked and don’t understand what is happening between Daewoong and Miho, but Miho now wears Dongju’s ring. Dongju even has tickets for the two of them to leave for Japan after the wedding. Needless to say, Miho’s wedding with Dongju doesn’t come off, we do see some of Minsuk and Director Ban’s though this relationship is not that important to the novel like it is in the TV show. Miho does end up with Daewoong and one tail left in the final chapter. She is not human but is now a one tailed fox!

Technically, the book says “the end” after the final chapter, but the epilogue is really interesting. This is the real departure the book takes from the TV show version. The pages of this section are printed on that dreamy watercolor blue paper with clouds. It starts with Miho saying that she’s pregnant with Daewoong’s child. Miho talks with Dongju about giving birth to fox-human hybrids, and Dongju admits he is one himself. We don’t get much more of an explanation of Dongju’s background than that. When she goes into labor, Dongju is there with a midwife, and she has twins, a boy and a girl. Although Daewoong isn’t present in the epilogue, I think it’s a more satisfying ending than the TV show version.

One point of analysis in comparison with The Little Mermaid that I will bring up is that I think Hyein doesn’t really remain in the role of the Little Mermaid’s rival for the prince. I never felt convinced that she was much of a threat to Miho with Daewoong. Somehow Dongju steps into that role, posing as a somewhat more likely suitor for Miho even if he comes off a bit cynical and bitter in the way he sets up Miho. It’s an interesting twist on the original story.

Part five of a five part series.

Next time we return to mainland China for Jia Mai’s Decoded!

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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 since 2007 and has provided content for Pitt JCS anime events since 2011. She has taught both ESL and Beginning Korean. Her 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.
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