Netflix K-drama midseason recap: My Demon – Kim Yoo-jung, Song Kang trudge through tired and hackneyed fantasy romcom

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Trouble is, for every Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, you get a dozen or more series that rely on fantasy to keep peddling the same old-fashioned and stereotypical tropes. That is exactly what My Demon is, a show that works very hard to give its audience exactly what it wants, and not a penny more.

My Demon: Song Kang, Kim Yoo-jung in superficial K-drama on Netflix

The formula is simple. Take a pair of strikingly attractive leads – in this case the otherworldly young stars Kim Yoo-jung and Song Kang, employ an arbitrary fantastical premise to force them to be around each other all the time, and then go through the usual romcom beats.

They bicker, they start to see each other in a different light, they get together, go through a brief lovey-dovey phase, something tears them apart and the climax brings them back together for good, most of the time.

Film romcoms employ more or the less the same structure, but they do so in under two hours, rather than the 16+ hours of standard K-dramas. Thus, television writers have to pad things out with several subplots, usually involving evil corporations and jealous secondary romantic interests.

Song Kang as the demonic Gu-won in a still from “My Demon”.

My Demon has all of that, but the problem is that it has nothing else. Worst of all, the sleepy and hackneyed story fails to come alive because of its uncharismatic characters.

This is less of a problem with the leads – Song is merely OK while the fiercely talented Kim fares a little better – than it is with the hopelessly shapeless supporting characters the rest of the cast is tasked with breathing life into.

As we begin 2024, we are 10 episodes through My Demon, which means we have got as far as the “something tears them apart” stage.

Song Kang (left) as Gu-won and Kim Yoo-jung as Do-hee in a still from “My Demon”.

To recap, Jeong Gu-won (Song), the demon of the title, is the kind of devil you make a deal with in return for your soul. One fateful night, he enters into that very deal with Do Do-hee (Kim), the adopted daughter of a corporate chairwoman. But something goes wrong and his powers are mysteriously transferred to her.

While he tries to figure out how to get those powers back, he needs to be around her to “recharge” – his magical tattoo has switched to her wrist, so this involves lots of holding hands.

Meanwhile, Do-hee has a target on her back thanks to the greedy children of ailing Joo Cheon-sook ( Kim Hae-sook) – especially after Cheon-sook bequeaths everything to her following her untimely death – so she winds up hiring Gu-won as her bodyguard.

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The obligatory subplots include a deranged killer who disguises himself and manages to move around undetected despite the massive bloody welts on his neck, who is actually working on behalf of a shadowy figure in black who smokes “devil” brand cigarettes.

That turns out to be Joo’s eldest son Noh Suk-min (Kim Tae-soon), a typical entitled corporate heir who resorts to violence when he does not get his way.

Concerning the secondary romantic leads, we have Joo Seok-hoon (Lee Sang-yi), Cheon-sook’s nephew and Do-hee’s ally, a nice guy – so far – that Do-hee can rely on but does not have the charisma of the romantic lead.

Lee Sang-yi as Seok-hoon in a still from “My Demon”.

Then there is Jin Ga-young (Cho Hye-joo), a depressing and deranged embodiment of the jealous and obsessive woman stereotype. She has worked for Gu-won’s cultural foundation since he saved her as a child, and has never not been utterly smitten with him.

She keeps popping up to throw herself at him – why he keeps her on is something of a mystery – and goes so far as to suggest to Do-hee that she should kill herself in order for Gu-won to live. Do-hee, astonishingly, decides to follow her directives. She gets as far as writing out a suicide note.

Episode 10 ends with a set-piece where Gu-won saves Do-hee’s life for the fourth time, an event that seems to restore some of his powers after they had gradually been slipping away. So we are basically right back where we started.

Song Kang (left) and Kim Yoo-jung in a still from “My Demon”.

My Demon is streaming on Netflix.

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Way to start off 2024
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