Treading carefully for this is by far the most technical script I have ever seen in a Korean drama. Another one added to the classics that are a Hong Sisters standard. Hwayugi was the stuff of fairy tales, with a Grimms’ twist. With a plethora of gods, deities, ghosts, priestesses and ghost seeing humans, this drama is by far the most technical drama to take up for the sheer length of each episode and the massive content that was generated per episode. With a story based off of the ancient Taoist novel titled Journey to the West, Hwayugi encompassed a universe with its own rules in the modern times, filled with suspense and characters with long held grievances against each other.
Starting off with our main character, we have Jin Seon Mi (played by Oh Yeon Seo) who is supposed to be the destined Sam Jang. Sam Jang is a person who has blood that smells of lotus flowers and if consumed by any of the deities they may be able to become very strong and reach a point where they can disobey the heavens and lead life the way they want to. Even when young, she was a unique child who could see ghosts and could repel them using a yellow umbrella bearing a talisman to ward off evil spirits. It is at this time that she runs into a mysterious man with an umbrella, who we are later introduced to as Ma Wang (literally means devil in Korean, played by Cha Seung Won), who is the cow deity who has been condemned to lead the life of a human on earth because of some excesses. He is seeking an iron fan that is locked up in a mysterious mansion where he directs Seon Mi to go to retrieve it. He tells her to ignore anything she sees there as a spirit and not indulge in a conversation with it. Inside the mansion she runs into a young man who is bound up in shackles, later revealed to be Son Oh Gong (played by Lee Seung Gi), who is the monkey deity. He convinces Seon Mi to free him because that is the only way she can take the fan and they make a contract that Oh Gong will come to her help whenever she is in trouble. She frees him and is departing with the fan when Oh Gong takes away her memory of his name, making their contract void, and also takes off with the fan, leaving Seon Mi haunted by the evil spirits for the rest of her life. As an adult we see that Seon Mi’s status as Sam Jang is attributed to the fact that she freed Oh Gong.
This is the basic premise around which the story develops. Seon Mi meets Oh Gong as an adult and gets caught up in the workings of the heavens that have a plan for her. Sam Jang is supposed to be sacrificed in order for an apocalypse to be avoided. With her life on the line, a romance with Oh Gong blooming because of the Geumganggo she uses to shackle his heart with, and the power politics over Sam Jang’s blood, this drama was a plethora of themes and motifs. An amazing cast full of fully fleshed out characters like Son Oh Gong, Jin Seon Mi, Ma Wang, the pig deity idol, PK (played by Lee Hong Gi, the dog deity secretary, Ma Ji Young (played by Lee El), Lee Se Young in three different roles, the Winter General and Spring Fairy (played by Sung Hyuk), the communicator with the heavens, Soo Bo Ri (played by Sung Ji Ru), Yoon Bora in two different roles and lastly, the mysterious Hong Hae Ah (played by Jung Jae Won). Despite the richness of the cast, acting, cinematography and the general adaptation of the story, the ending failed to touch many of the audience. However, I believe this drama delivered more than Goblin ever could in terms of a good ending. Sadly, there were so very many themes