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Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (쓸쓸하고 찬란하神 – 도깨비; Sseulsseulhago Chanlanhasin – Dokkaebi; lit. The Lonely and Great God – Goblin) is a South Korean television series starring Gong Yoo in the title role with Kim Go Eun, Lee Dong Wook, Yoo In Na, and Yook Sung Jae. It was shown on the cable network tvN from December 2, 2016 to January 21, 2017. The drama was written by popular drama writer Kim Eun Sook. As of February 2020, it is the fifth-highest rated Korean drama in cable television history.

Guardian's final episode recorded an 18.68% nationwide audience share, making it the fifth highest rated drama in Korean cable television history behind The World of the Married, Sky Castle, Crash Landing on You and Reply 1988.

Synopsis

Is it better to live forever or to finally be able to die?

Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) is a decorated military general during the Goryeo Dynasty who is betrayed by the jealous king he served. When Kim Shin is faced with death instead of honor after fighting a mighty battle, God turns Kim Shin into a goblin instead, tasked with protecting certain people from the life of misery. But immortality is wearing on Kim Shin, and he longs to find the prophesied human bride who can set his soul free.

Kim Shin becomes accidental roommates with Wang Yeo (Lee Dong Wook), the grim reaper who ushers people's souls into the afterlife. Kim Shin's nephew, Yoo Deok Hwa (Yook Sungjae), is a rebellious chaebol heir whose family has been caretakers of the goblin for many generations. Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) is a high school senior whose mother was saved from an accident by Kim Shin 19 years ago, and ever since then, she has been able to communicate with the dead. Sunny (Yoo In Na), the owner of a chicken restaurant and Eun Tak's boss, crosses path with Wang Yeo and becomes smitten with him.

Can Eun Tak be the true "goblin bride" with the power to release Kim Shin from his eternal misery?[1]

Cast

A 939-year-old immortal goblin and protector of souls who is in search for his bride, the only one who can remove the sword piercing through his chest. Once the sword is removed, he may finally move to the afterlife and rest in peace. He possesses supernatural powers that come with his immortality, but he has to pay a huge price for this. He feels lonely as he has to watch his loved ones leaving him behind when their lifespan ends. He served as a General during the Goryeo era and was killed by King Wang Yeo who is now reincarnated as a Grim Reaper. He witnessed the murder of his sister by the hands of the King Wang Yeo, the biggest reason why he hates the king. When his sword is finally removed, he disappears for 9 years, but later comes back.
  • Kim Go Eun as Ji Eun Tak
    • Han Seo Jin as Young Eun Tak
An optimistic and bubbly high school student and is the legendary Goblin's bride. She can see ghosts due to her way of birth; her mom was in a hit and run and pregnant at the time to which the Goblin saw and saved her. She is immune to the Goblin's and the Grim Reaper's power. Falls in love with the Goblin but forgets him after his sword is pulled out and he disappears. Reunites with the Goblin when he comes back. However, she sacrificed herself to save a bus of schoolchildren and was hit by a truck. She dies, but later comes back and reunites with the Goblin in her next life.
A good-looking, cynical yet humorous character grim reaper (grim reapers receive their jobs as a punishment for committing the greatest of sins in their past lives) who guides souls to their reincarnations or afterlives. Along with many other grim reapers, he has no memory of his past lives. He was a malicious king named Wang Yeo in his past life. He killed his wife as king, something to which he regretted for the rest of his life and killed himself for. This was his ultimate sin. He falls in love with Sunny, who is his reincarnated wife.
The attractive owner of a chicken restaurant who is constantly confused by the Grim Reaper's constant social awkwardness. The Grim Reaper falls for her and she soon returns his affection. She was the sister of the Kim Shin as Queen and the wife of King Wang Yeo (now the Grim Reaper) in her past life. When everyone else forget their memories, she is the only one who remembers. Ends up with the Grim Reaper in her fourth life.
A rebellious yet kind-hearted chaebol heir and the only grandson of the Yoo family, a household that has the responsibility of taking care of the Goblin. Living with the Goblin and the Grim Reaper, Deok-hwa learns of their true identities, and the trio grow to be strong friends. It is later revealed that God had taken over his body for a period of time.

  • Lee El as Samshin Lady
  • Jo Woo Jin as Kim Soo Bok, a secretary
  • Kim Sung Kyum as Yoo Shin Woo, Deok Hwa's grandfather
  • Choi Woong as a Grim Reaper's hoobae
  • Go Bo Gyeol as Eun Tak's class president
  • Kim Byung Chul as Park Joong Won, a goryeo eunuch
  • Yoon Da Young as a Grim Reaper
  • Kim Min Young as So Jin, Eun Tak's class bully
  • Yeom Hye Ran as Ji Yun Sook, Eun Tak's aunt
  • Jung Young Ki as Park Kyung Shik, Eun Tak's cousin
  • Choi Ri as Park Kyung Mi, Eun Tak's cousin
  • Park Kyung Hye as a ghost that follows Eun Tak
  • Kim Ki Doo as a Grim Reaper
  • Jo Hyun Shik as a Grim Reaper's hoobae
  • Kim Chang Hwan as a Grim reaper's junior
  • Ahn Ji Hyun as Go Jung Hyun, Eun Tak's schoolgirl ghost friend
  • Lee Chae Kyung as Jang Il Ok, a manager
  • Yoon Gyung Ho as Kim Woo Sik, Kim Shin's lieutenant

  • Kim So Hyun as Young Kim Sun/Queen of Goryeo/Shin's sister (Ep.1+10-12)
  • Kim Min Jae as Young Wang Yeo/King of Goryeo (Ep.1+10-13)
  • Park Hee Bon as Ji Yeon Hee, Eun Tak's mother (Ep.1)
  • Hwang Seok Jung as a fortune teller ghost (Ep.2-5)
  • Ryu Tae Ho as Eun Tak's boss
  • Jung Ji Hoon as Child Yoo Duk Hwa/Kim Shin's servant
    • Kim Hyun Bin as Teen Yoo Duk Hwa
  • Jung Hae In as Choi Tae Hee, Eun Tak's childhood friend
    • Jo Yong Jin as Child Choi Tae Hee
  • Yoon Joo Man as a money lender
  • Lee Seul Bi as the vain woman at the cafe
  • Nam Da Reum as Kim Soo Bok, the boy that the goblin meets in Paris (Ep.1)
  • Joey Albright as Waiter Ryan (Ep.5+15)
  • Park Se Wan as Go Shi Won, the ghost with glasses
  • Kim So Ra as Lee Jung Hwa, a vengeful ghost
  • Ham Sung Min as a soldier (Ep.15)
  • Lee Kyu Hyung as Jung Hwa's husband (Ep.11)
  • Oh Ah Rin as a girl at the hospital (Ep.6)
  • Kim Nam Hee as an overworked doctor in ER
  • Hong Boo Hyang as Go Shi Won's mother
  • Hwang In Joon as a suspect at the police station
  • Hwang Sang Kyung as a pickpocketer (Ep.7+8+10)
  • Lee Moon Soo as Shin's loyal old man in the Goryeo era
  • Kim Hye Yoon as the young era of a widowed old lady (Ep.15)
  • Song Soo Hyun as Kim Woo Shik's daughter
  • Kim Nan Hee as Eun Tak's homeroom teacher
  • Park Jin Woo as a moneylender
  • Lee Han Seo as the girl handing a book to Eun Tak in the bookstore (Ep.2)
  • Lee Seung Jun as Shin (Voice) (Ep. 4)
  • Sung Nak Kyung as Na Kyung Won, the man who runs over Eun Tak's mother
  • Lee Ha Yoon
  • Choi Na Moo
  • Park Gi Ryoong
  • Dong Yoon Seok
  • Kim Sung Bum
  • Kim Do Hyun
  • Choi Bum Ho
  • Yoon Da Kyung
  • Kim Ki Nam
  • Son Young Soon
  • Kim Hyun Mok
  • Byun Joo Hyun
  • Kang Hye Kyung
  • Yang Jo Ah

  • Soundtrack

    Main Article: Goblin OST

    Episodes

    In this table, the blue numbers represent the lowest ratings and the red numbers represent the highest ratings.

    Episode Title Aired Average audience share
    AGB Nielsen TNmS
    Nationwide Seoul Nationwide
    Episode 01 "What Kind Of A Guardian Are You?" December 2, 2016 6.322% 7.540% 6.7%
    A former human turned goblin is cursed to remain immortal and alone for hundreds of years. Ji Eun Tak, a girl who can see spirits, accidentally summons him, but she's not what he expected.
    Episode 02 "I'll Become Your Bride In 200 Years" December 3, 2016 7.904% 10.024% 8.1%
    Eun Tak is happy when her life begins to change for the better, but then finds out Kim Shin has been lying to her.
    Episode 03 "I See The Sword" December 9, 2016 12.471% 14.274% 12.0%
    Kim Shin pushes Eun Tak on whether she can see something about him nobody else can, but Eun Tak has other things on her mind.
    Episode 04 "I Won't Leave You" December 10, 2016 11.373% 13.768% 12.7%
    Kim Shin meets with an old friend, and Eun Tak considers what her newfound responsibilities will mean for her future.
    Episode 05 "I Have To End My Life" December 16, 2016 11.507% 12.075% 14.0%
    Eun Tak helps one of her visitors pass on to the other side, and Kim Shin makes new sleeping arrangements.
    Episode 06 "Tomorrow" December 17, 2016 11.618% 14.772% 13.0%
    Kim Shin is still struggling to get Eun Tak to do what he needs her to do, while the Grim Reaper tries to act like a human.
    Episode 07 "I Think It's Your Face" December 23, 2016 12.297% 13.993% 13.8%
    Eun Tak attempts to pull the sword out of Kim Shin's chest, but something holds her back. The Grim Reaper is thrown in jail.
    Episode 08 "You Gave Her That Fate" December 24, 2016 12.344% 14.748% 11.6%
    The Grim Reaper and Duk Hwa must clean up after Kim Shin's reaction. Eun Tak takes her exams.
    Episode 09 "He'll Vanish Forever From This World To Another" December 30, 2016 12.933% 13.333% 14.6%
    When Eun Tak learns of Kim Shin's fate, she tries to run away and avoid her own destiny. The Grim Reaper is at a loss with how to date.
    Episode 10 "Is She Really Your Sister?" December 31, 2016 12.702% 14.551% 13.3%
    It's almost the new year, so Eun Tak asks Kim Shin to spend her first day as a 20-year old adult with her. The Grim Reaper struggles with the knowledge about Sunny's past.
    Episode 11 "The Deity Is So Cruel To You And Me" January 6, 2017 13.894% 15.749% 14.8%
    The Grim Reaper confronts Sunny, as does Kim Shin. An old "friend" introduces himself to Eun Tak.
    Episode 12 "Forget About Me" January 7, 2017 13.712% 15.680% 14.6%
    Sunny holds the key for the Grim Reaper to discover his past. Eun Tak begins college despite the threat on her life.
    Episode 13 "Protect Her" January 13, 2017 14.254% 16.525% 15.3%
    Sunny, Kim Shin, and the Grim Reaper come to terms with their pasts.
    Episode 14 "Whom Have I Forgotten?" January 20, 2017 16.043% 17.767% 16.3%
    The sword is out, and everything changes. Nine years pass, and we find out what has happened to everyone.
    Episode 15 "Will You Be My Bride?" January 21, 2017 16.917% 18.829% 17.7%
    Eun Tak travels to Quebec to try and figure out why she can't remember a section of her past.
    Episode 16 "Goodbye And See You Again" January 21, 2017 18.680% 20.986% 19.6%
    Both Sunny and Eun Tak inadvertently hurt their partners, who must come to terms with their decisions.
    Average 12.924% 14.729% 13.7%
    Special January 14, 2017 9.427% 11.786% 9.1%
    February 3, 2017 3.606% 5.050% 3.9%
    February 4, 2017 4.075% 5.582% 4.2%

    [2]

    • Episode 14 was postponed as additional time was needed to work on the special graphics. Episodes 15 and 16 were shown back-to-back on January 21, 2017.

    International broadcast

    • In Brunei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, the drama aired on Oh!K with subtitles. It was retitled as "Goblin" in promotional materials and during broadcast. It was premiered on December 3, 2016, 24 hours after its original broadcast in South Korea.
    • In Sri Lanka, Brunei, Malaysia, the Maldives and Vietnam, the drama is available to stream on-demand on Iflix. It was retitled as "Goblin" in promotional materials. During its original run, episodes of the drama were exclusively streamed on Iflix within 24 hours of its original South Korean broadcast with subtitles between December 3, 2016, and January 22, 2017.
    • In Japan, the drama was premiered in March 2017 on Mnet Japan. And later in 2018, it was premiered both in TV Tokyo with Hanryu Premiere on 21 May and BS Fuji on 13 September, both channels with Japanese dub.
    • The series is available on-demand on Viu in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia with English, Chinese, Indonesian and Malay subtitles.
    • Outside of Asia, the drama streams on DramaFever and Viki with subtitles.
    • In Thailand, the drama aired in early 2017 on True4U.
    • In the Philippines, the series was premiered on ABS-CBN on May 8, 2017, replacing Love in the Moonlight on its Primetime Bida block. On November 13, 2017 the series was re-aired on its Kapamilya Gold block, dubbed in Filipino. It was re-shown on Asianovela Channel, starting on July 30, 2018.
    • In Cambodia, the drama was premiered on July 24, 2017 on Town TV.
    • In Indonesia, it was shown on GTV, on Mondays to Fridays at 14:00 starting on October 2, 2017.
    • In Singapore, it aired on Channel U, on Mondays to Fridays at 10pm starting on November 27, 2017.
    • In Hong Kong, Macau, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, the drama began on tvN with a variety of subtitles on January 23, 2018.
    • In Bangladesh, the drama is available to stream on-demand on Iflix. It was retitled as "Goblin" in promotional materials. It is also dubbed in Bengali in the app.

    Production

    The series was written by Kim Eun Sook, who also wrote the popular series Secret Garden (2010), The Heirs (2013), and Descendants of the Sun (2016). The drama marked her second collaboration with director Lee Eun-bok after both worked on Descendants.

    The first script-reading was held at Nuri Dream Square in Sangam-dong, Seoul, South Korea, on August 30, 2016. The Goryeo-era flashback scenes were filmed on Gimje, North Jeolla Province on September 22 for the battlefield scenes, while the palace scenes were shot at Naju Image Theme Park. Goblin and Grim Reaper's house (external shots) was filmed at (formerly) Unhyeongung's Western House, presently inside Duksung Women's University (utilized for administration offices).

    Overseas filming mainly took place in Quebec City, Canada in October, using locations such as the Château Frontenac, Parc du Bastion-de-la-Reine (the Yoo family cemetery), Petit Champlain (Goblin's door to Canada), and the Fontaine de Tourny. The red door, which in reality is the emergency exit of the Théâtre Petit Champlain, and other sites in Quebec City associated with the show have begun to attract numerous fans of the series.

    The crew was awarded a special vacation to Phuket, Thailand after the end of the drama.

    Reception

    The drama was a hit and consistently topped cable television viewership ratings in its timeslot. Its final episode recorded an 18.680% nationwide audience share according to Nielsen paid platform, making the episode the second-highest rated in Korean cable television history. It became the first cable drama to surpass 20% ratings. It was also popular among the international audience, which led to parodies of the drama on various social media sites, notably by both celebrities and political figures.

    The drama has also sparked various fashion trends. Items and accessories worn by the cast members, such as the Lanvin coat worn by Gong Yoo, Lancôme lipstick used by Kim Go-eun and Fedora worn by Lee Dong-wook saw an increase in sales. Kim In-yook's poetry book, The Physics of Love, gained renewed attention after one of its verses was featured in the drama. There was also an increase in visitors at the various filming sites of Guardian, which contributed to a positive economic effect on the country. Additionally, original soundtracks featured in the series also topped local digital music charts. Since 2017, it has surpassed Descendants of the Sun (2016) in video-on-demand sales.

    Its success was attributed to the creative plot. The Korea Times stated, "[...] the depth of perspective looking at life of the goblin that bears a bloody sword in his chest and has been given eternal life as punishment, immerses the audience into the fantasy story. The twist and complexity of life and death make the story more interesting."

    Despite its success, Guardian was criticized for its several consumer product placements (as well as Kim Eun-sook's previous hit-drama Descendants of the Sun in 2016) which drew an estimated 2-4 billion KRW from revenue. TV and cultural critics also criticized various aspects of the drama, such as its strong emphasis on Cinderella complex and the huge age gap of the lead characters, which might lead to a decline in female's social status. It was also criticized for its over-dramatic plot.

    Awards and nominations

    Year Award Category Recipient Result
    2017 First Brand Awards Special Award Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Won
    11th Korean Cable TV Awards Best Drama
    Best OST Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow)
    Rising Star Award Yook Sung Jae
    VOD Broadcasting Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
    5th Annual DramaFever Awards Best Actor Gong Yoo
    Best Supporting Actor Lee Dong Wook
    Best Supporting Actress Yoo In Na
    Best Couple Gong Yoo & Kim Go Eun
    Best Melodrama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
    53rd Baeksang Arts Awards Grand Prize Kim Eun Sook
    Best Drama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Nominated
    Best Director Lee Eung-bok
    Best Screenplay Kim Eun Sook
    Best Actor Gong Yoo Won
    Best Actress Kim Go Eun Nominated
    12th Asia Model Awards Asia OST Popularity Chanyeol (EXO), Punch (Stay With Me) Won
    Brand of the Year Awards Actor of the Year Gong Yoo
    12th Seoul International Drama Awards Outstanding Korean Drama OST Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow)
    1st Soribada Best K-Music Awards Best Hallyu OST
    10th Korea Drama Awards Best Drama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
    Best Production Director Lee Eung-bok Nominated
    Best Screenplay Kim Eun Sook
    Top Excellence Award, Actor Lee Dong Wook
    Top Excellence Award, Actress Kim Go Eun
    Excellence Award, Actress Yoo In Na
    Best New Actor Yook Sung Jae Won
    Best Original Soundtrack Crush (Beautiful) Nominated
    Soyou (I Miss You)
    Star of the Year Award Yook Sung Jae Won
    Popular Character Award Kim Byung-chul
    Park Kyung-hye
    3rd Fashionista Awards Best Fashionista – TV & Film Division Gong Yoo Nominated
    Yoo In Na
    Global Icon Lee Dong Wook
    2nd Asia Artist Awards Best OST Award Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won
    22nd Asian Television Awards Best Drama Series Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Nominated
    19th Mnet Asian Music Awards Best OST Chanyeol (Exo), Punch (Stay With Me)
    Crush (Beautiful)
    Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won
    9th Melon Music Awards Song of the Year Nominated
    Best OST Award Won
    Kakao Hot Star Nominated
    Crush (Beautiful)
    2018 32nd Golden Disc Awards Best OST Award Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won
    27th Seoul Music Awards Best OST Award

    Trivia

    • This drama took over the timeslot previously occupied by "The K2" and was followed by "Tomorrow With You" on February 3, 2017.[3]
    • First script reading took place on August 30, 2016 at Nuri Dream Square in Sangamdong, Seoul, South Korea.[3]
    • Filming began in September 2016. Gong Yoo and Kim Go-Eun began filming scenes in Canada on October 5, 2016.[3]

    Gallery

    Videos

    References

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