When the first ten episodes of My Demon aired through November and December in 2023, there was little that the show seemed to get wrong. The fantasy-romance K-drama, which follows a demon and a chaebol who enter into a contract marriage, had charming leads in Song Kang and Kim Yoo-jung, sparkling chemistry, stunning visuals, and a plot that cashed in on the best of what the genre had to offer.
My Demon however is also a great example of why more K-dramas need to adopt the 12 episode format. The number of K-dramas that seem to lose steam after episode 12, and fall prey to lazy writing and infuriating plot holes, are one too many of late. This is truly tragic given how this seems to undo a lot of what made these shows tick in the first half.
The fantasy drama initially introduces us to Do Do-hee (Yoo-jung), a hotshot chaebol heiress who heads an F&B company. Having been adopted as a child by Jo Cheon-sook (Kim Hae-sook), the head of the Mirae group, she remains Do-hee’s favourite person. She soon has a run-in with Jeong Gu-Won (Song Kang), who is the actual devil. He struts around in immaculately styled clothes, offering people contracts where he grants them anything they desire in exchange for their souls to be taken straight to hell, after a gap of ten years.
Amidst being targeted by scheming family members, a mysterious masked stalker, and the untimely death of her adoptive grandmother, Do-hee also finds herself in possession of Gu-won’s demon powers. Since Gu-won has to now hover around her to keep a watch on his powers, he becomes the ripe candidate for her bodyguard and soon after, her contract husband. The marriage here will guarantee her inheritance, and her taking over the Mirae group.
Contract marriages are a K-drama staple and despite knowing the outcome of it, what makes My Demon initially work is the lead up to it all. Do-hee, at least initially, isn’t just reduced to someone who needs saving. She’s busy fending off her evil family and unhinged stalkers, and it is in fact the devil here who has precious little to do apart from panicking over the loss of his powers. These sequences make for great comic stretches – Song Kang in particular is hilarious when he is harried, and Yoo-jung perfectly complements him given how self-assured she is. Watch out for the superbly choreographed and hilarious tango dance-fight.
My Demon (Korean)
Cast: Song Kang, Kim Yoo-jung, Lee Sang-yi, Kim Hae-sook
Directors: Kim Jang-han, Kwon Da-som
Episodes: 16 episodes
Run-time: 60 minutes
Storyline: A devil meets his match in a chaebol heiress who he enters into a contract marriage with
It helps that the two very good-looking actors have great screen presence and chemistry, and are sharply styled throughout. They truly do light up the screen, and Yoo-jung in particular thankfully gets an interesting, no-nonsense character to work with, which she aces in the first half of the show.
As the writing slowly unravels, the pacing of the show takes a hit. It doesn’t help that there are an array of supporting characters – ranging from the kind-hearted second male lead to the one-dimensional villain baying for blood that are as prosaic as they come. After episode 10, the show seems to be grasping at straws as to how to hurry along the proceedings.
The result? We get one too many complications, a lot of angst, and the surprise entrance of a character we believed was dead. The angst here works, as does the flashback which takes us back in time to the story of a charming nobleman who falls for a courtesan. Everything else, however, becomes unnecessarily convoluted in a show which initially celebrated not taking itself too seriously and focussing on keeping things entertaining.
Fantasy has always been a much favoured K-drama genre and when My Demon started out, it truly did all it could to perfectly blend in the romance, and keep the stakes interesting. With better writing in its latter half, the show could truly have ranked high in the fantasy-romance genre. Song Kang and Kim Yoo-jung make it worth a watch, but you truly are left wondering about how much more the writing could have pitched in and elevated their charm as well.
All 16 episodes of My Demon are streaming on Netflix
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