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Kokdu: Season of Deity - The perfect drama to welcome the spring season

By Mulenga

Following the lives of a reincarnated princess, the love of her life who endures a curse that can only be broken by true love (I cringed a little writing that), and the two Gods tasked with helping him along the way. Kokdu: Season of Deity is a somewhat light-hearted rom-com with tinges of mystery and thriller sprinkled in. The perfect watch for those looking for a drama that has the right mix of comedy, romance, suspense and thrill.


Characters:

Kkok Du (꼭두) / Do Jin Woo (도진우) / Oh Hyun (오현)

Oh Hyun:

He loved a woman so dearly that even in death he vowed to wait for her. However, having waited for lord knows how long, he loses memory of who he is, who is waiting for and why he is waiting. His defiance incurs the wrath of the Creator who curses him and turns him into KokDu.

KokDu:

Cursed by the creator, KokDu is charged with helping the dead cross over into the afterlife. He is allowed to descend to earth every 99 years and can stay for only 99 days before returning back to his post. While on earth, he is tasked with listening to the cries of humans and punishing (unaliving) the evil doers mentioned in those cries. While doing so, if he so happens to find the reincarnation of Seol Hui, and gets her to say the words ‘I LOVE YOU’ to him, the curse will be broken allowing him to gain peace in death.

Do Jin Woo:

A successful surgeon and youngest ever Executive Director at Pil-Seong Hospital. Also, shares an uncanny resemblance to KokDu and gets possessed by him later on.


Han Gye Jeol (한계절) / Seol Hui (설희)

Seol Hui:

A princess and Gye Jeol’s past life, she is in love with Oh Hyun but ends up betrothed to marry another. The kicker is, Oh Hyun is the one taking her to be wed.

Han Gye Jeol:

A doctor at a small hospital who ends up being fired due to hospital politics (funding, lobbying, etc.) and ends up getting hired as an intern at Pil-Seong Hospital (very sketchily). Getting involved with Do Jin Woo, she ends up losing that job after which chaos ensues.


Gak Shin (각신)

Gak Shin:

“When rumours spread, only then will disharmony in the world end in conflict and war.”

Original name: Seo Bok Gyeong. Became the Goddess of Rumours due to her social nature, extreme curiosity and inability to keep secrets. She has been tasked with assisting KokDu during his 99 days on earth. Unlike Ok Shin, she is able to put up with KokDu’s temperament. (Note: She is one of the reasons I enjoyed this drama.)


Ok Shin (옥신)

Ok Shin:

“Disharmony in the world begins with money and ends with rumours.”

The creator designated him as the God of Greed. Together with Gak Shin, they become the Gods of Disharmony. Has also been tasked with assisting KokDu during his 99 days on earth. Obsessed with wealth, he has done everything from being a lawyer, doctor, accountant, etc. and amassed a large amount of wealth making him the owner of one of Korea’s top 10 conglomerates, Bul-Hwa Group.


Han Cheol (한철)

Han Cheol:

A highly intuitive detective and Gye Jeol’s younger brother. Although he has a habit of making fun of his sister, he is very protective of her and butts heads with KokDu as a result (also Kok…Do Jin Woo, being suspected of murder doesn’t help). He ends up assigned to a high profile serial murder case in which the bodies of the victims have been found frozen solid .


Tae Jeong Won (태정원)

Tae Jeong Won:

A smart and driven assistant Professor in Internal Medicine at Pil-Seong Hospital. She meets Do Jin Woo while studying abroad and falling in love, they start dating. However, this is short-lived and they break up due to a lover’s spat. She is also a university friend to Gye Jeol but their relationship is currently strained due to something she did to Gye Jeol. She now hopes to redeem herself and unwittingly falls in love while doing so.


Plot x Storyline:

The story starts off by introducing us to KokDu and Gye Jeol’s past lives, Oh Hyun and Seol Hui. I will admit, this was quite a touching scene because right off the bat, we get faced with the question of ‘respect tradition and follow orders for the sake of our nations and the lives of those who live within them’ or ‘ignore all of that and follow the path of love’ (you can probably guess which path they went with).


Safe to say, choosing the latter landed them in trouble and as you can already guess, Oh Hyun ended up losing his life and was stranded waiting for Seol Hui in the afterlife. After many many years of waiting, the Creator (the God of all Gods- I’m guessing) tires of Oh Hyun’s stubbornness and descends to the afterlife in an attempt to convince Oh Hyun to move on (be reincarnated and such). However, with no recollection of who he was, the person he was waiting for or even why he was waiting for them in the first place, Oh Hyun stubbornly declines and insists on staying (something about, when the person comes I will remember - I'm paraphrasing). Enraged by this, the Creator curses Oh Hyun to become KokDu, God of Death (whatever you do, DON’T CALL HIM A GRIM-REAPER!!!), and charges him with listening to the concerns of the dead and helping them to cross over into the afterlife.


Fast forward a few hundred years (maybe close to a couple thousand), Gye-Jeol (reincarnated Seol Hui) is living her life as a doctor in a small hospital when life takes a turn and she ends up being fired due to being blamed for medical malpractice. Despite being falsely accused, the hospital head has no choice but to fire her because the person accusing her is funding money to build new facilities for the hospital (K-Drama hospital politics, you know how it is). Packing all her stuff, she leaves the hospital, however, in true K-Drama fashion, she exits the hospital to find rain outside (and she has no umbrella - we can all guess what happens next).


Yep, she runs out into the rain and trips on the stairs as she’s running down (Dog? What dog? All I see is a well timed plot point). As she trips, who should appear but our knight in shining armour (maybe not shining considering he’s the God of Death and all). Yep, THE KOKDU-NIM himself.


Showered in cherry blossom petals (sidenote: I love the fact that this is his motif. It really matches the spring season), KokDu swoops in and saves her from a fall that would most certainly have put her back in the hospital she had just left (cue romantic slow motion that lasts just a bit too long that it starts to get uncomfortable). After having saved her, he promptly disappears leaving Gye Jeol wondering whether what just happened had in fact happened. Thankfully, a ring, seemingly dropped by the mysterious stranger, remains as proof of their “fateful” encounter.


Enamoured with her new hero, she enlists the help of her brother to help find him (Han Cheol thinks she’s nuts for this by the way) so that she could return his ring to him.


With the aid of Gye Jeol’s skillfully drawn composite sketch (shown above), Han Cheol heads off in search of……. My apologies. Han Cheol pretty much laughs in her face and calls her delusional, which I agree with (Hero-nim looked nothing like that). Anyway, Gye Jeol still has a desire to be a doctor, so she applies to various hospitals to work, even if she has to start from scratch as an intern. After many rejections, she finally gets an interview at Pil-Seong Hospital where she meets the knight in “shining” armour, Do Jin Woo, that she had been looking for (it wasn’t Hero-nim but we’ll get to that later). Cue the beginning of her involvement with Do Jin Woo, which eventually leads to her being fired (again), and the predetermined death of Do Jin Woo (with Gye Jeol as a witness of course - watch the show to find out how hehe).


Following the death of Do Jin Woo, KokDu promptly possesses the now soulless body and begins his 99 days in the world of the living with Ok Shin and Gak Shin there to welcome him.


Seeing someone fall from the roof of an apartment complex (onto a car), only for them to get up as if nothing happened, leaves Gye Jeol in shock. However, this shock quickly changes to rage as the good doctor disappears leaving her to fend for herself against the accusations she is now facing from Pil-Seong hospital officials. Enlisting the help of her awesome detective brother (his words, not mine), she manages to track the doctor down to Yeong-Po city, and believing that he must be suffering from amnesia due to head trauma, she decides to help him (It also helps that she has a soft spot for him already cause no-one is helping someone that got them shamefully fired like that). This is also when KokDu realises that Gye Jeol may have the peculiar ability to make him do whatever she says, although Gye Jeol herself is unaware of this.


The realisation of Gye Jeol’s powers leads KokDu to the assumption that he may finally be able to release himself from the curse. This prompts KokDu to try and do everything in his power to gain Gye Jeol’s affection. This includes trying to get her job back at Pil-Seong by posing as Do Jin Woo, dropping money on her (literally), and even giving her a small town clinic to call her own (accommodation included) at a very VERY discounted price (the money he is throwing around is in fact part of Ok Shin’s massive wealth pile, he’s a chaebol afterall. - Ok Shin is not pleased).


While all of this is happening, KokDu still has to carry out his duty of unaliving evil doers, and although he would rather not participate in killing (Frankly he’s tired of it now), the pain the prayers of their victims inflicts on him, leaves him no choice but to comply (I felt so bad for him but seeing bad guys get their just deserts was also kind of satisfying). The problem with this is: 1. the deaths are discovered, leading to a police investigation, and 2. Han Cheol not only spots ‘Do Jin Woo’ at the location of the crime but now has footage placing ‘Do Jin Woo’ (and his vehicle - an absurd 24k gold automobile) at the location of one of the murders. On top of that, he also has footage of ‘Do Jin Woo’ disappearing into thin air (although he doesn’t know what to make of it just yet - is it just a CCTV error? Or is something more sinister afoot?).


All these things combined inevitably begin to hinder KokDu’s plans at getting Gye Jeol to fall in love with him (or rather, he thinks they are hindrances - to be honest she’s been into him since day one). On top of that, Do Jin Woo’s ex-girlfriend, Tae Jeong Won, appears in Yeong-Po claiming they “didn’t break up” and that Gye Jeol is a “man stealer” (side note: Gye Jeol and Jeong Won have a history - all I can say is, this is one of those pot meet kettle situations).


Obviously, as with every K-Drama featuring romance, there’s always a catalyst that pauses or at least slows down the romantic progression of the main leads. Jeong Won is no different. One thing to note, though, is that this catalyst is short-lived as she moves on to another suitor (wink wink). With KokDu’s attempts now temporarily at a standstill, and Gye Jeol now re-thinking her involvement with the man she still believes to be Do Jin Woo (albeit suffering from some form of amnesia that has lead to some form of Dissociative Identity Disorder - D.I.D), how will this fated couple reunite and will they have a happy ending?


Thoughts:

All in all, although I enjoyed the mix of romance and comedy juxtaposed with the fantasy thriller element, I wish that there was more of a focus on the punishing evil aspect.

Plotwise, the story started off well. They introduced the relevant characters and gave us a good backstory about why we should be rooting for the main characters. We also got to see good relationship building when it came to Gak Shin, Ok Shin and KokDu. (It was heartwarming to see them interact while skirting the fine line between family and servitude) That being said, there are a few things I wish were executed a bit better.

  1. The storyline starts to get slightly muddled mid-way through the drama. As more and more characters are introduced, the story dealing with KokDu’s struggles being the God of Death starts to take a backseat and we get more story to do with Gye Jeol building her clinic and KokDu helping her do that while trying to figure out how to break the curse. The same happens with the past life aspect of the storyline. Rather than keeping the momentum of the first and second episodes, the attachment to the past life gets somewhat forgotten and is only brought up to support a character’s sudden change of attitude towards another, etc.

  2. The overarching antagonist’s motivations are not clearly set up. The drama is very clear about who the main villain is and what it is they did (in the present) to deserve that title. However, we never fully dive into why the villain did what they did. On top of that, a very obscure link to the villain’s past life is also introduced without any real information as to why the villain was the villain in the past life, as well. Yeah Seol Hui was forced to marry him for the sake of her kingdom and his men were involved in the death of Oh Hyun, but what was it that he did or would do for Seol Hui to be forced into a union with him in the first place.

  3. This is just a personal preference, but I would have liked a little more background on Ok Shin and Gak Shin. Why exactly they are being punished (what was the outcome of their wrongdoings to solicit being made the Gods of Greed and Rumours respectively) and what it was that would resolve this punishment (or even if they wanted to resolve said punishment in the first place).


Rating x Rewatch Score:

In terms of rating, I rated this drama a 4 out of 5. I enjoyed the fact that although it was a romance drama, the level of romance was somewhat tastefully done. Although there were some cringy parts at times, it was quickly followed up by a comedic scene or juxtaposed with a darker scene so it wasn’t too overwhelming. Also, I am a fantasy girl at heart so I thoroughly enjoyed the fantasy aspect (wish we saw more of the creator though). I mean, who doesn’t like mystical, all powerful beings meddling in human affairs and even punishing evil. I love a good anti-hero story (sadly this wasn’t the main focus of the story, unfortunately). Not only fighting against evil but also fighting against the odds to defy a higher power for his destiny (something like that).

As for the rewatch score, I give KoKdu a 3.5 out of 5. Why? There wasn’t really much that stood out in this drama to set it apart from the rest of the dramas within the same genre. They gave us romance and drama, they gave us suspense and even tugged at the good ol’ heartstrings. However, so does every drama in the same category. For that reason, I may possibly re-watch it when I miss Gak Shin and Ok Shin and maybe when I want to see some justice served (although the amount of evil slaying in the drama left a lot to be desired).





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