A Korean Odyssey

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Hwayugi
A Korean Odyssey (Hwayugi).jpg
Promotional poster
Hangul화유기
Genre
Based onJourney to the West
by Wu Cheng'en
Developed byStudio Dragon
Written by
Directed by
Creative director(s)
  • Choi Hyun-sung
  • Geum Won-jung
  • Lee So-jin
Starring
Country of originSouth Korea
Original language(s)Korean
No. of episodes20
Production
Executive producer(s)Lee Jin-suk
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time70 minutes
Production company(s)JS Pictures
Distributor
Release
Original networktvN
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Audio formatDolby Digital
Original releaseDecember 23, 2017 (2017-12-23) –
March 4, 2018 (2018-03-04)
External links
Website

A Korean Odyssey[3] (Korean화유기; RRHwayugi) is a South Korean fantasy television series starring Lee Seung-gi, Cha Seung-won, Oh Yeon-seo, Lee Hong-gi and Jang Gwang. Written by the Hong sisters, the drama is a modern spin-off of the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West. It aired on tvN starting December 23, 2017, every Saturday and Sunday at 21:00 (KST).

Synopsis[edit]

In 2017, Son Oh-Gong and Ma-Wang are in conflict with each other as they look for a true light in a dark world where evil thrives. From there, Son Oh-Gong is bound to his protective role towards Seon-mi, the little girl he had met years ago. Having made a contract with Seon-mi 25 years ago, entitling her to seek help from Son Oh-Gong whenever she calls him in exchange for letting him free, the two meet again in a fateful encounter.

Plot[edit]

The drama begins with young Seon-mi, a girl cursed with the ability to see ghosts and spirits. Her seemingly irrational behavior has isolated her from her family and peers, and her only protection is her grandmother and a small yellow umbrella with protection spells written by a Buddhist monk. One day when she walks home from school, a ghost follows her, and this is witnessed by a mysterious man in a suit and black top hat (Woo Ma-Wang). The mysterious man exorcises the ghost for her, and asks her for a favor: to enter a magical house and retrieve a certain fan. She is also given specific instructions to ignore anyone she sees in there. However, the person inside the house is Son Oh-Gong the Monkey King, who was imprisoned inside by Heaven for his crimes. He blocks her path and forces her to acknowledge him, and tells her that the man outside is a great danger to her as well. Oh-Gong makes her a deal: if she puts out the five candles on the table and frees him, he promises to protect her from all dangers in her life every time she calls his name. But after she agrees and releases him, Oh-Gong steals the memory of his name out of her head and makes a run for it, leaving young Seon-mi stranded in the middle of nowhere on her own.

Fast-forward to present day, and Seon-mi has grown up into an adult. Still armed with her little magic umbrella, she owns a real estate company that specializes in buying haunted houses, exorcising the spirits, and then flipping it for large profits. At a busy intersection, Seon-mi and Oh-Gong spot each other and Seon-mi asks why he did what he did. He gives an unsatisfactory answer and Seon-mi tearfully asks aloud why she ever bothered having faith in him as a child. Meanwhile, Son Oh-Gong is looking to reinstate his status as an immortal and has been doing various good deeds to earn brownie points with Heaven. He finds out from a possessed doll that Samjang has been born, and anyone who eats Samjang's flesh can gain immortality. He confirms this with Soo Bo-ri and decides to figure out who it is and eat them. However, Samjang is none other than Seon-mi, which means that Oh-Gong cannot eat her without violating the promise he made to her as a child that he would protect her. While Oh-Gong tries to figure out a way to convince Seon-mi to die for him, Soo Bo-ri goes to Woo Ma-Wang and asks him for help in protecting Samjang. Ma-Wang takes Seon-mi to a antique shop with magical wares, staffed by an old lady (Bodhisattva Guanyin) and a teenage boy. The old woman sells him a Geumganggo (2.0), a magical bracelet that will ensure the obedience of anyone who wears it through the power of love. The original Geumganggo is worn on the head and forces obedience through headaches, but this new version is worn on the wrist. Seon-mi gives it to Oh-Gong as a gift the next time she sees him, and has a prophetic dream about standing in a field, wearing a hanbok, and giving him a kiss. This dream comes true when Seon-mi is dragged into a haunted painting by a malevolent spirit that kidnaps women and tries to marry them all. Oh-Gong enlists the help of Pal-gye, a pig demon and pop artist under Ma-Wang's entertainment company, to get inside the painting. Pal-gye does help him get into the painting, but he and Ma-Wang burn the painting instead, trapping both Seon-mi and Oh-Gong inside. Seon-mi decides to follow her dream and kisses Oh-Gong, thus activating the Geumganggo, though she did not realize that would happen and also did not know what the Geumganggo would do. Oh-Gong gives her back her memory of his name and forces her out of the painting world, because he cannot leave the painting world unless she summons him from the outside. Seon-mi cuts her own hand and attracts a hoard of demons to her before calling out Oh-Gong's name. Oh-Gong comes out of the painting world and rescues her from the demons.

From then on, the main plot is focused on Seon-mi and Oh-Gong's budding relationship despite these difficult circumstances. Oh-Gong professes to be deeply in love with Seon-mi, but only because of the Geumganggo. He constantly reminds her that if she takes it off, his love will disappear, and he may return to wanting to eat her for immortality instead. Seon-mi, who has been a loner all her life, can't help but be touched by Oh-Gong's thoughtful actions, and struggles to guard her heart against any romantic feelings because Samjang's tragic destiny is always to be a sacrifice for humanity against growing evil. Every episode involves Seon-mi and Oh-Gong fighting off the demon of the week while dealing with their own internal conflicts. Seon-mi's feelings for Oh-Gong are also constantly tested as she learns more about the kind of person Oh-Gong is and his many secrets. The nightmare looming constantly over both their heads is a prophetic dream that Seon-mi had about the world ending, and knowing that she had to do everything she could to prevent it. Oh-Gong later also learns that his role as Samjang's protector means he will either kill her, or she will kill him. This further drives them apart even as they fall more in love with each other.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

An extremely powerful immortal who was exiled to the human world with his powers sealed, due to his mischievous and prideful nature. Jin Seon-mi is the love of his life.
CEO of Lucifer Entertainment. A gentle and charismatic businessman, he is the object of others’ envy due to his popularity. He has a bad history with Son Oh-gong in the past, and now seeking for chances to be a deity through 'collecting' points in order to change the fate of the woman he loves.
A real estate CEO who resells houses that have had notoriously bad luck (inhabited by evil spirits). She is wealthy, beautiful and has an unyielding tenacity. When she was a kid, she was ostracised by her peers. She meets Ma-Wang, and releases Son Oh-gong from his prison, and later meets him again by fate. Son Oh-gong is the love of her life.
A top star under Woo Hwi-chul's agency. He has the power to seduce women and sucks the life force out of them. He is a pig demon.
CEO of MSUN, a mobile phone manufacturing company.

Supporting[edit]

An idol group trainee under Woo Hwi-chul's agency. She is actually a woman who lives in a dead zombie body that is rotting.
Woo Hwi-chul's secretary and number one follower. She is a dog demon.
A politician who is a candidate for the presidential election, and is popular with female voters for his good looks and his gentle character.
A real estate employee who works under Jin Seon-mi.
Two spirits in a body whereby General Frost is Son Oh-gong's advisor who owns an ice cream shop in the day whilst Fairy Ha is a warm and social lady who owns a cocktail shop in the night, offering a listening ear to the demons as well as Sam-jang.
An elderly deity who knows hints of the heavens' plans and helps Woo Ma-wang in tabulating the points needed to be accumulated for him to achieve his goal of being a deity.
A top star in Woo Hwi-chul's agency. She has “unwittingly” lived as Jade Dragon, the second son of one of the four Dragon Kings.
A mysterious youth who is also the grandson of a peddler. Woo Ma Wang's son

Extended[edit]

  • Park Sang-hoon as Eun-sung
  • Jung Jae-eun as Maternal Aunt
  • Kang Sang-pil as Gangster[17]
  • Lee Yong-lee as Jin Sun-mi's grandmother
  • Son Young-soon as Street Vendor
  • Seo Yoon-a as Mi-joo
  • Baek Seung-hee as Wooden Doll Ghost's Bride
  • Min Sung-wook as Saekjungki
  • Park Seul-gi as Reporter

Special appearances[edit]

Woo Hwi-chul's first love, who is serving her punishment for stealing human children souls for her child.
His first love is Jin Seon-mi.

Production[edit]

Park Bo-gum was offered the lead role of Son Oh-gong in July 2017, but eventually declined.[21] Choo Ja-hyun was originally cast in the cameo role of Na Chal-nyeo, but had to be replaced by Kim Ji-soo due to pregnancy.[22]

The series reunites Cha Seung-won, Lee Seung-gi, and Lee Hong-gi with the Hong sisters, who have worked together in the TV series The Greatest Love (2011), My Girlfriend Is a Nine-Tailed Fox (2010) and You're Beautiful (2009) respectively. It also reunited Hong sisters and director Park Hong-kyun, who worked together on Warm and Cozy (2015) and The Greatest Love (2011). It also reunites Lee and Cha who starred together in You're All Surrounded (2014).

On December 27, it was announced that director Kim Jung-hyun will join the production.[23][24] A third director, Kim Byung-soo was added to the production on January 5, 2018.[25][26]

Reception[edit]

According to data released by Nielsen Korea, A Korean Odyssey ranked the most-watched show of its time slot including both cable and public broadcasting channels for its premiere episode.[27] Moreover, the series broke the record for the highest ratings for the first episode of a tvN drama in the Nielsen Korea 20-49 year-old target audience bracket.[28]

Controversy[edit]

On December 24, episode 2 broadcast was repeatedly interrupted by long commercial ads during which tvN displayed a message stating that there are "internal issues delayed the broadcast". The broadcast then resumed but then was later abruptly cut altogether. tvN issued an apology stating that there was "a delay in the computer graphics process" and that "the finalized version of episode 2 is set to air on December 25 at 6:10 p.m. (KST)."[29]

The show suffered another controversy when it was revealed that a staff member was seriously injured after falling on set.[30]

Original soundtrack[edit]

A Korean Odyssey
Original soundtrack
Soundtrack album
StudioCJ E&M Music Studios
GenreSoundtrack
LanguageKorean, English
LabelCJ E&M

Part 1[edit]

No.TitleArtistsLength
1."Let Me Out"NU’EST W03:18
2."Let Me Out" (Inst.) 03:18
Total length:06:36

Part 2[edit]

No.TitleArtistsLength
1."When I Saw You"Bumkey02:57
2."When I Saw You" (Inst.) 02:57
Total length:05:54

Part 3[edit]

No.TitleArtistsLength
1."I'll Be By Your Side" (네 옆에 있을게)MeloMance04:04
2."I'll Be By Your Side" (Inst.) 04:04
Total length:08:08

Part 4[edit]

No.TitleArtistsLength
1."I'll Be Fine" (뒷모습)Suran04:16
2."I'll Be Fine" (Inst.) 04:16
Total length:08:32

Part 5[edit]

No.TitleArtistsLength
1."If You Were Me (ft. Yoo Hwe-seung of N.Flying)" (니가 나라면)AOA (Jimin, Yuna)03:13
2."If You Were Me (ft. Yoo Hwe-seung of N.Flying)" (Inst.) 03:13
Total length:06:26

Part 6[edit]

No.TitleArtistsLength
1."If We Were Destined" (운명이라면)Ben04:08
2."If We Were Destined" (Inst.) 04:08
Total length:08:16

Part 7[edit]

No.TitleArtistsLength
1."Like A Miracle (Someday)" (그 언젠가 기적처럼)Hwang Chi-yeul03:56
2."Like A Miracle (Someday)" (Inst.) 03:56
Total length:07:52

Part 8[edit]

No.TitleArtistsLength
1."Always You"leeSA02:53
2."Always You" (Inst.) 02:53
Total length:05:46

Part 9[edit]

No.TitleArtistsLength
1."Believe"Mackelli03:38
2."Believe" (Inst.) 03:38
3."Justify" (Opening Title)Various Artists01:50
4."Fara Effect"Various Artists02:29
5."Fire"Various Artists02:28
6."Mawang Tension"Various Artists01:26
7."Ghost scene"Various Artists01:50
Total length:14:55

Ratings[edit]

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

Ep. Original broadcast date Average audience share
AGB Nielsen[31] TNmS[32]
Nationwide Seoul
1 December 23, 2017 5.290% (1st) 5.933% (1st) 4.9%
2[a] December 24, 2017 4.849% (1st) 5.292% (1st) 5.4%
December 25, 2017 5.623% (1st) 6.659% (1st) 6.2%
3 January 6, 2018[b] 5.614% (1st) 6.125% (1st) 7.1%
4 January 7, 2018 6.060% (1st) 6.439% (1st) 7.0%
5 January 13, 2018 6.102% (1st) 6.473% (1st) 6.2%
6 January 14, 2018 6.942% (1st) 7.749% (1st) 7.2%
7 January 20, 2018 5.131% (1st) 5.044% (1st) 6.1%
8 January 21, 2018 5.822% (1st) 5.949% (1st) 6.4%
9 January 27, 2018 5.054% (1st) 5.539% (1st) 5.8%
10 January 28, 2018 6.271% (1st) 6.987% (1st) 6.6%
11 February 3, 2018 5.705% (1st) 5.702% (1st) 6.5%
12 February 4, 2018 5.605% (1st) 6.122% (1st) 6.1%
13 February 10, 2018 4.397% (1st) 4.365% (2nd) 5.0%
14 February 11, 2018 5.517% (1st) 5.810% (1st) 6.2%
15 February 17, 2018 3.586% (2nd) 3.516% (2nd) 4.5%
16 February 18, 2018 4.250% (1st) 4.565% (1st) 4.6%
17 February 24, 2018 3.821% (2nd) 3.819% (3rd) 5.0%
18 February 25, 2018 5.472% (1st) 5.708% (1st) 6.2%
19 March 3, 2018 5.945% (1st) 6.205% (1st) 6.8%
20 March 4, 2018 6.881% (1st) 6.924% (1st) 7.4%
Average 5.415% 5.713% 6.1%
  • This drama airs on a cable channel/pay TV which normally has a relatively smaller audience compared to free-to-air TV/public broadcasters (KBS, SBS, MBC and EBS).

International broadcast[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ On December 24, 2017, episode 2 did not fully air due to "internal issues" and was re-broadcast the following day at 18:10 (KST).
  2. ^ Episode 3 and 4, which were supposed to air on December 30 and 31, 2017 respectively, were pushed back a week to give time for the production team to work on the CG,[33] as well as to evaluate the production process of the program.[34][35]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Netflix will distribute tvN's 'Hwayugi' globally". Korea JoongAng Daily. December 1, 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-11-30.
  3. ^ A Korean Odyssey 차승원, "난 요괴들의 신(神) 우마왕이다" 절대낭만 퇴마극 화유기 첫 티저 공개 171223 EP.1. YouTube (in Korean). tvN Drama. November 23, 2017. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
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  17. ^ "Kang Sung-pil to join "Hwayugi"". Hancinema. October 16, 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-10-18. Retrieved 2017-10-17.
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  21. ^ "Park Bo Gum Rejects Offer To Star In Hong Sisters' New Fantasy Drama". Soompi. July 21, 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-10-16. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
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  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-02-13. Retrieved 2018-02-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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  32. ^ "TNMS Daily Ratings: this links to current day-select the date from drop down menu". TNMS Ratings (in Korean). Retrieved December 23, 2017.
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External links[edit]