Goblin, a popular but controversial K-drama



K-dramas are known for their near-perfect male leads: attractive, intelligent heirs to vast fortunes, among other positive qualities. The K-drama Goblin follows in that direction, except for that they take it to the next level; they conjure a knight in shining armor who is considered by television critics to be a god.

Critics argue that is one of they main reasons why the show has boasted record-breaking viewership since its premiere on South Korean cable channel tvN with production by Studio Dragon.
“We've evolved past god-like men to actual gods, who have the appearance of good-looking men,” said culture critic Jung Duk Hyun. “Now, their abilities surpass the realm of human strength.”
In the past few years, popular dramas have seen a surge in male leads who are gifted with supernatural powers.The male protagonist in 2013's I Hear Your Voice can read people's minds. The following year, My Love From the Star featured an extraterrestrial with superhuman powers of sight, hearing and speed as its romantic lead. The year after, in Another Miss Oh the male love interest was able to see the future.
And now it's Goblin's turn. Based on Korean folklore about dokkaebi, a higher spiritual being who is roughly equivalent to a goblin, Goblin stars Gong Yoo as Kim Shin, a warrior who was impaled on a sword centuries ago and transformed into an immortal with endless wealth.
Goblin has scored ratings as high as 12.7 % in 2016 and many critics attribute this popularity to female viewers' yearning for all-powerful make figures who can solve the problems of modern women with stressful lives. The final episode in Jan 2017 recorded an 18.7% nationwide audience making it the second highest rated drama in Korean cable television history.
“The realistic ideal is that two people complement each other in a relationship,” said Choi Ji Sun, 28, a lawyer who has watched every episode of the show.
“But it's easy to escape to a world where someone will come to my side at the drop of a hat, no questions asked, and provide everything. Of course, I would never expect that of my real life partner.”
In the show, the protagonist Ji Eun Tak, played by Kim Go Eun, is able to summon Kim Shin by just blowing out a flame.
The female lead is surrounded by problems, living with relatives who scorn her after the death of her mother. Kim Shin comes to her rescue to provide for her and shelter her. Although he is her knight in shining armor, she is no damsel in distress. Instead, she is strong and strives to provide for herself.
“But it's a shame she is unable to escape the Cinderella stereotype, especially when her make partner is so almighty,” says drama critic Kim Sun Young.
Their age difference has done nothing but spark the controversy as Ji is portrayed as a high school student while Kim is said to be 39 years old with the appearance of a thirty-something man.
The system of fantasy blocks any guilt and allows viewers to accept, without being repulsed, the romance between a young woman and an older man, TV critic Hwang Jin Mi. “But the image of a young girl... hanging onto a rich, thirty-something man... lingers.”
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