In part 2 of this Goblin style review, it’s all about the humans. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, go forth before reading this! Also, watch out for massive, massive spoilers.
Let’s begin with the character that I’m most ambivalent about: Eun-Tak (Kim Go-Eun). As much as I really like Kim Go-Eun, I think Kim Shin (Gong Yoo), who’s in his late thirties plus hundreds of years of immortality, is way too old for a high schooler. This is like Buffy and Angel all over again, and I thought that was pretty gross.
I think that the writer and producers of Goblin realized this too, which is why they aged Eun-Tak up to her late twenties before the romance with Kim Shin got serious. She starts off with teenaged clothing like her hooded sweatshirt, which is a shortcut to show that she’s not a “typical” girly teen, which is a blatant ploy to get chicks to identify with her. The first time Kim Shin notices her (dudes, this scene was just kind of…if I were eighteen and some dude in his late thirties was checking me out, I’d be calling Obama and Xi Jinping and Angela Merkel to do something. Actually, scratch them, I’d call Mrs. Obama), she’s dressed in a green hoodie. As I wrote before, the colour green in this drama is usually related to something about romance and love, so it’s foreshadowing these two falling in love.
But the main colour that’s really associated with Eun-Tak isn’t green, it’s red, since it’s the colour that’s all about connections between humans and the supernatural, and Eun-Tak is a human who is also the goblin’s bride. By the way, I’m kind of resisting that label, like couldn’t Kim Shin be the ghost seer’s husband instead?
Eun-Tak’s signature accessory is her red scarf, which her mom was wearing when Kim Shin saved her (and Eun-Tak’s) life. Eun-Tak also wears it when she’s a little kid and meets the Grim Reaper (Lee Dong-Wook) for the first time.
I also really want to highlight how well the stylist uses red to show the changing relationship and the dynamics between Eun-Tak and Kim Shin in four consecutive scenes. This is the first time that Eun-Tak summons Kim Shin, and she’s wearing her red scarf. Notice also how they’re both wearing neutral sweaters. It’s their first official meeting, and while there isn’t a strong romantic atmosphere yet (thank God, especially since Eun-Tak is wearing her school uniform and looks SO YOUNG), the drama is definitely pushing the fated lovers angle.
Then Eun-Tak accidentally summons Kim Shin again in the next scene and she’s wearing a dark red/maroon hoodie. This time, there’s a bit of conflict in the scene–Kim Shin wants nothing to do with her, but Eun-Tak wants him to grant her wishes–and so you see that tension in contrasting colours of their clothes. There’s no common ground here, yet.
And then again in the next scene, she figures out how to summon an irritated Kim Shin by blowing out flames, and here Eun-Tak is wearing a neutral palette that’s a more innocent, younger version of Kim Shin’s own black neutral colour. They’re also linked in a very tiny way: Eun-Tak is wearing maroon socks that match Kim Shin’s maroon sweater, signalling the beginning of a friendship. Yes. I notice people’s socks in dramas. Doesn’t everyone??
And finally, in the last scene of the first episode, Kim Shin is on his way to Quebec when Eun-Tak summons him. She’s back in her maroon hoodie, but Kim Shin is dressed more formally because he’s going to visit some graves. Kim Shin makes a serious effort to get rid of Eun-Tak, but she still manages to enter Quebec with him via his magic teleportation. I also notice that this is the second time that Eun-Tak is asking Kim Shin to grant her wishes and wearing her maroon hoodie.
Okay, so let’s leave red and check out how well the stylist manages to echo the dynamics between the characters in their clothing. Whenever it rains in the drama, it’s because Kim Shin is feeling down, and at one point, he looks for Eun-Tak, who isn’t doing so good herself. I really like the subtle connections here in the black and white of their clothing and how the plaid pattern of Kim Shin’s coat reinterprets Eun-Tak’s plaid skirt. Here their connection to each other is definitely established, and this scene is also about how they’re moving forward with their relationship.
The stylist also likes to switch it around by using one or two similar colours and letting the patterns show the differences in their personalities or intentions. Both Eun-Tak and Kim Shin have strong greens in their clothing, but since they’re not getting along, you see Eun-Tak with her red and Kim Shin in the opposite colour, yellow. The stylist really likes pairing stripes with plaids, which I think is really 90s so I approve.
I should also point out (since I didn’t last time) that Kim Shin’s clothes often have a yellow detail on it. I assumed it has to do with goblins making gold, but now that I think about it, it’s also because it’s a contrast colour to red, kind of like how he and Eun-Tak are an “opposites attract” type of couple.
Or sometimes, it’s just blatant couples’ fashion.
As their relationship deepens further into love, the stylist also likes to have them switch colours for successive scenes, like how Eun-Tak is in camel and Kim Shin in indigo in the scene in the car and then Kim Shin in camel and Eun-Tak in indigo for the very next scene.
Eun-Tak’s wardrobe quietly gets upgraded as her relationship with Kim Shin deepens. Okay, I know it’s a drama with goblins and grim reapers, so maybe I’m nitpicking here but there are still rules within the drama, and one of them is that Eun-Tak is a broke-ass teen. Where is she getting the money to buy these obviously expensive clothes? Is she a klepto? I think the drama is subtly trying to age her by putting her in clothing that’s a little more sophisticated and structured, as well as provide some visual variety, but…meh.
Adult Eun-Tak continues wearing clothes within the same type of wheelhouse. Ugh, really don’t like her hair. It’s a cute bob, they could have just styled it better but I guess she’s supposed to be drab and stressed during this time period.
By the way, the stylist really likes that blue shirt under camel look. It shows up on Duk-Hwa (Yook Sung-Jae) and Sunny (Yoo In-Na), too.
Moving on, there are a lot of great style moments that really tell you a lot about what’s going on with the characters. Here, in a scene early in the drama, Eun-Tak moves into the goblin’s house and you can see how all the characters’ clothing reflect each other.
It’s worth nothing that in scenes where all four of these characters are together, Duk-Hwa and Kim Shin are dressed in similar colours while Eun-Tak and Grim Reaper are the ones sharing the same palette. I’d like to think it’s because Duk-Hwa has been nagging Kim Shin about his wardrobe choices but it’s probably because they’re family.
Here’s another example of Eun-Tak and Grim Reaper having the same palette. My conspiracy theory is that it’s because they’re both responsible for Kim Shin’s deaths–the Grim Reaper as Wang Yeo ordering him to be killed and Eun-Tak pulling his sword out and ending his immortality.
In this scene, Sunny visits Kim Shin to see if she’s really his reincarnated sister. Eun-Tak is already pretty much in a romantic relationship with Kim Shin, so her clothing is reflecting a more mature look. Kim Shin, on the other hand, is being made to look younger with a preppy collegiate style, and poor Grim Reaper is emotionally messed up seeing Sunny and has lost his usual sharp silhouette. Sunny is the clear outsider to this little ad hoc family in her pink and gold furs.
Speaking of Sunny, she is my favourite character after Duk-Hwa. I have had a really soft spot for Yoo In-Na ever since she was in Secret Garden, and this chick can really dress. You can throw every kind of pelt on her and she looks gorgeous. The stylist must have had so much fun with her wardrobe. As the reincarnated queen, she wears a lot of colours and textures and generally has this luxurious and fashionable vibe.
Sunny and the Grim Reaper’s ill-fated romance is also reflected in their clothing. There is no couples connection in terms of colour or pattern or even texture like what Eun-Tak and Kim Shin have.
Occasionally, the best they can do is the tiny details, like the powder blue of Sunny’s blouse and the navy blue of Grim Reaper’s outfit.
And the grey in her sweater is a callback to his grey coat.
The one time they’re dressed similarly is when Sunny discovers that the Grim Reaper isn’t human.
It’s only when they’ve reincarnated into a new life that their clothing begins to reflect each other more. Sunny still dresses more flashily than Grim Reaper, but you can see how their clothing is more complementary now, with similar styles, like the black sweaters under coats below, or colours within the same palette or more similar details.
I will admit that I am biased towards Sunny because I own versions of most of those coats. In her later reincarnation, Sunny is described as dressing like a gambling den hostess, and that is extremely close to my own personal style, which is mahjong auntie glamour.
Another character who has that glamourous touch is Duk-Hwa, who Hot Magic Halmoni says is the happiest character in the drama, with the sweetest personality and the kindest heart. But she forgot to add that Duk-Hwa, probably even more than Sunny, also has the most platinum wardrobe. There’s not much to say about the psychology behind Duk-Hwa’s clothing except to say that his clothing often reflects (in a more expensive and flashy way, of course) a lot of the other characters’ clothing since he’s the most innocent and empathetic character, despite being spoiled and a little dumb, and works as a connector between characters.
Here’s Duk-Hwa forcing poor Eun-Tak to buy him Subway (clearly a sponsor) while dressed in a more expensive version of her grey sweater and indigo coat.
Otherwise, he’s just dressed like the dandy chaebol heir that dramas love. I kind of love how dramas have this very middle class idea of what wealth looks like: all the gilt and imitation Louis XIV furniture and the flashy wardrobe. It’s certainly a more enjoyable look than the actual stuff that really wealthy people wear. I can’t think of a better way to end this Goblin style breakdown than by simply showing some of Duk-Hwa’s best looks.
But really the peak of Duk-Hwa’s glamour is this sassy little outfit with matching hat that he wore when he met Kim Shin for the first time. Observe and try not to fling yourself to the ground in despair at ever reaching these sartorial heights.
This concludes the Goblin style review, and I’ll be hunting for a new drama or film to review for the next month. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know!