Guardian: The Lonely and Great God

Guardian: The Lonely and Great God[4] (Korean쓸쓸하고 찬란하神 – 도깨비; RRSseulsseulhago Chanlanhasin – Dokkaebi; lit. The Lonely and Great God – Goblin) is a South Korean television series starring Gong Yoo in the title role with Kim Go-eun, Lee Dong-wook, Yoo In-na, and Yook Sung-jae. It was shown on the cable network tvN from December 2, 2016 to January 21, 2017. It was written by popular drama writer Kim Eun-sook.[5] As of February 2020, it is the fifth-highest rated Korean drama in cable television history.

Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
Golbin Poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Also known asGoblin[1]
Hangul쓸쓸하고 찬란하신 – 도깨비
Revised Romanizationsseulsseulhago challanhasin – Dokkaebi
McCune–Reischauerssŭlssŭlhago ch'allanhasin - Tokkaebi
LiterallyThe Lonely and Great God - Goblin
Created byStudio Dragon
Written byKim Eun-sook
Directed by
  • Lee Eung-bok (Ep. 1-16)
  • Kwon Hyuk-chan (Ep. 5-16)
  • Yoon Jong-ho (Ep. 3-16)
Creative director(s)
  • Yoon Jong-ho (Ep. 1-2)
  • Jung Ji-hyun (Ep. 1-16)
  • Kim Sung-jin (Ep. 1-16)
Opening theme"Round and Round" by Heize and Han Soo-ji
Ending theme"Stay With Me" by Chanyeol and Punch
Composer(s)Nam Hye-seung
Country of originSouth Korea
Original language(s)Korean
No. of episodes16 + 3 specials[2]
Executive producer(s)
  • Kim Beom-rae
  • Yoon Ha-rim
  • Joo Kyung-ha
  • Kim Ji-yeon
Production location(s)
  • Park Sung-yong
  • Kang Yoon-soon
Editor(s)Lee Sang-rok
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time60–90 minutes[3]
Production company(s)Hwa&Dam Pictures
Original networktvN
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Audio formatDolby Digital
Original releaseDecember 2, 2016 (2016-12-02) –
January 21, 2017 (2017-01-21)
External links
Production website

Guardian's final episode recorded an 18.68% nationwide audience share, making it the fifth highest rated drama in Korean cable television history.[6] It received critical acclaim and became a cultural phenomenon in South Korea.[7] The show won numerous awards, including the Grand Prize (Daesang) for writer Kim Eun-sook and Best Actor for Gong Yoo at the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards.


Kim Shin (Gong Yoo), a decorated military general from the Goryeo Dynasty, is framed as a traitor and killed by the young king. Years after his death, he is cursed by the almighty to stay immortal forever and endure the pain of seeing his loved ones die as punishment for the kills he committed in the wars to protect his country. He becomes an immortal goblin, helping people with his powers and being a kind man in spite of his grieving past. The only way to put an end to his immortality is the Goblin's bride, whose aid in pulling out the sword will end his painful immortality.

Ji Eun-Tak (Kim Go-eun) is a bubbly high school student who remains cheerful and hopeful despite her tragic life. She summons the goblin by chance and their fates begin to entwine. The Goblin's nephew Yoo Deok-Hwa (Yook Sung-jae) leases the Goblin's house to a Grim Reaper (Lee Dong-wook) and the two end up living under the same roof. Sunny (Yoo In-na) is a charismatic young lady who runs a chicken shop where Ji Eun-Tak works as a part timer.

As the lives of Kim Shin, Grim Reaper, Ji Eun-Tak and Sunny interweave, a deeper story unfolds, as they are not just strangers who met by chance but people with deep-rooted relations.



A 939-year-old immortal goblin and protector of souls who is in search for his bride, the only one who can remove the sword piercing through his chest. Once the sword is removed, he may finally move to the afterlife and rest in peace. He possesses supernatural powers that come with his immortality, but he has to pay a huge price for this. He feels lonely as he has to watch his loved ones leaving him behind when their lifespan ends. He served as a General during the Goryeo era, where he was appointed as the regent with his sister being betrothed to the young King Wang Yeo. However due to corruption by a eunuch, the King's guards killed Kim Shin's sister, soldiers, and household. When his sword is finally removed and his body dissolves into ashes, he chooses not go onto the afterlife and instead decides to stay trapped in limbo for 9 years until he is summoned by Eun-tak and returns to Earth with his powers intact.
An optimistic and bubbly 19-year old high school student and the legendary Goblin's bride. A "Missing Soul", she can see ghosts and summon the Goblin due to her way of birth; her pregnant mom was in a hit and run at the time to which the Goblin intervened to save them both, before Grim Reaper Wang Yeo could take them. Orphaned at age 9 and pursued by the Grim Reaper, she was forced to live with her abusive aunt who was seeking her mother's insurance policy. She immediately falls in love with the Goblin, who takes her in his home so she can pass her exams and enroll in university, while he rediscovers the joy of living. She eventually helps him to remove his sword, although her memories are wiped as a result of his apparent death. Nine years later as a radio producer, she reunites with the Goblin when she inadvertently summons him, and he helps her to regain her lost memories and they marry. However, she is killed by a truck when sacrificing herself to save a bus of schoolchildren. She is reincarnated and reunited with the Goblin.
A good-looking, cynical yet humorous grim reaper (Angel of Death) (grim reapers receive their jobs as a punishment for committing the greatest of sins in their past lives) who guides souls to their reincarnations or afterlives. Along with many other grim reapers, he has no memory of his past lives. He was a young king named Wang Yeo in his past life. Under the influence of a power-hungry eunuch, he betrayed General Kim Shin and killed his wife, which he regretted for the rest of his life, and eventually committed suicide, which was his ultimate sin. He falls in love with Sunny, who is his reincarnated wife, but she decides to part ways as she finds it too painful, and he accepts that they will not be together in this lifetime. He is reunited with Sunny when she dies and becomes the final ghost he has to guide to the afterlife.
The attractive owner of a chicken restaurant who hires Ji Eun-tak. The Grim Reaper Wang Yeo falls for her and she soon returns his affection, although she is constantly confused by the Grim Reaper's constant social awkwardness. In her past life she was the younger sister of General Kim Shin and she became Queen upon marrying King Wang Yeo (now the Grim Reaper). However, when the eunuch urged the King to exile her brother, she sided with her brother upon his return and was killed. When everyone else forget their memories, she is the only one who remembers. Ends up with the reincarnated Wang Yeo in her fourth life.
A rebellious yet kind-hearted chaebol heir and the only grandson of the Yoo family, a household that has the responsibility of taking care of the Goblin. Living with the Goblin and the Grim Reaper, Deok-hwa learns of their true identities, and the trio grow to be strong friends. It is later revealed that God had taken over his body for a period of time.


  • Lee El as Samshin, Goddess, the creator of birth and fate
  • Kim Sung-kyum as Chairman Yoo Shin-woo, Deok-hwa's grandfather
  • Yeom Hye-ran as Ji Yeon-suk, Eun-tak's aunt
  • Jung Young-gi as Park Kyung-shik, Eun-tak's male cousin
  • Choi Ri as Park Kyung-mi, Eun-tak's female cousin
  • Jo Woo-jin as Kim Do-young, Deok-hwa's secretary
  • Hwang Seok-jeong as triplet sisters; two of them as a shaman fortune teller and a ghost
  • Park Kyung-hye as ghost trying to take Eun-tak with her
  • Park Se-wan as ghost wearing glasses (Ep. 5)
  • Go Soo-jung as ghost
  • Kim So-ra as Lee Jung-hwa
  • Go Bo-gyeol as Kim Yoo-na, Eun-tak's class president
  • Lee Moon-soo as an old man from the Goryeo era who kept Kim Shin's body
  • Yoon Kyung-ho as Kim Woo-sik, Kim Shin's loyal lieutenant from the Goryeo era
  • Kim Byung-chul as Park Joong-heon, a cunning and manipulative official from the Goryeo Dynasty
  • Nam Da-reum as Kim Soo-bok, boy who met Kim Shin in Canada
  • Kim Nan-hee as Eun-tak's teacher
  • Kim Min-young as Soo-jin, Eun-tak's schoolmate
  • Ma Min-hee as one of Soo-jin's school friends
  • Yoon Hee-kyung as one of Soo-jin's school friends
  • Choi Woong as Wang Yeo's junior grim reaper
  • Kim Ki-doo as one of the junior grim reapers
  • Jo Hyun-sik as Loan shark
  • Yoon Joo-man as Loan shark
  • Yun Da-yeong as a female grim Reaper
  • Ahn Ji-hyun as Go Jung-hyun; Eun-tak's ghost friend
  • Lee Seul-bi as vain woman at cafe
  • Kim Hye-yoon as the young era of a widowed old lady (Ep. 15)

Special appearancesEdit


Lee, Gong and Kim at the drama's press conference, November 2016

The series was written by Kim Eun-sook, who also wrote the popular series Secret Garden (2010), The Heirs (2013), and Descendants of the Sun (2016). The drama marked her second collaboration with director Lee Eun-bok after both worked on Descendants.[16][17]

The first script-reading was held at Nuri Dream Square in Sangam-dong, Seoul, South Korea, on 30 August 2016.[18] The Goryeo-era flashback scenes were filmed on Gimje, North Jeolla Province on September 22[19] for the battlefield scenes, while the palace scenes were shot at Naju Image Theme Park.[20] Goblin and Grim Reaper's house (external shots) was filmed at (formerly) Unhyeongung's Western House,[21] presently inside Duksung Women's University (utilized for administration offices).[22]

Overseas filming mainly took place in Quebec City, Canada in October,[23] using locations such as the Château Frontenac, Parc du Bastion-de-la-Reine (the Yoo family cemetery), Petit Champlain (Goblin's door to Canada), and the Fontaine de Tourny.[24] The red door, which in reality is the emergency exit of the Théâtre Petit Champlain [fr], and other sites in Quebec City associated with the show have begun to attract numerous fans of the series.[25]

The crew was awarded a special vacation to Phuket, Thailand after the end of the drama.[26]

Original soundtrackEdit

Guardian (Original Television Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album
StudioCJ E&M Music Studios
LanguageKorean, English
LabelCJ E&M, Hwa&Dam Pictures
Pony Canyon (Japan)[27]
Able9 (China)[28]
Original soundtrack (Part 1-14)

Part 1Edit

1."Stay with Me"Chanyeol, Punch03:13
2."Stay with Me" (instrumental) 03:13
Total length:06:26

Part 2Edit

1."Only in My Eyes" (내 눈에만 보여)10cm02:37
2."Only in My Eyes" (instrumental) 02:37
Total length:05:14

Part 3Edit

1."Hush"Lasse Lindh04:20
Total length:04:20

Part 4Edit

2."Beautiful" (instrumental) 3:48
Total length:7:36

Part 5Edit

1."You Are So Beautiful" (이쁘다니까)Eddy Kim03:16
2."You Are So Beautiful" (instrumental) 03:16
Total length:06:32

Part 6Edit

1."Who Are You"Sam Kim04:16
2."Who Are You" (instrumental) 04:16
Total length:08:32

Part 7Edit

1."I Miss You"Soyou02:50
2."I Miss You" (instrumental) 02:50
Total length:05:40

Part 8Edit

1."First Snow" (첫눈)Jung Joon-il04:57
2."First Snow" (instrumental) 04:57
Total length:09:54

Part 9Edit

1."I Will Go to You Like the First Snow[30]" (첫눈처럼 너에게 가겠다)Ailee03:50
2."I Will Go to You Like the First Snow" (instrumental) 03:50
Total length:07:40

Part 10Edit

1."Wish[30]" (소원)Urban Zakapa03:56
2."Wish" (instrumental) 03:56
Total length:07:52

Part 11Edit

1."And I'm Here"Kim Kyung-hee (April 2nd)04:08
2."Winter Is Coming"Han Soo-ji02:30
3."Stuck in Love"Kim Kyung-hee (April 2nd)02:39
Total length:09:17

Part 12Edit

1."Heaven"Roy Kim, Kim EZ (GGot Jam Project)04:20
2."Heaven" (instrumental) 04:20
Total length:08:40

Part 13Edit

2."Love" (instrumental) 02:58
Total length:05:56

Part 14Edit

There was a controversy surrounding the release of the song "Round and Round". Originally, the song was sung by Han Soo-ji. However, when the song was officially released, Han was merely a featuring on the track, which was sung by Heize. This caused dissatisfaction among fans, who loved Han's voice. CJ E&M released an official apology, saying that Han was enlisted to record just the first 50 seconds of the song, but the writer of the song, Nam Hye-seung, requested since the beginning that the full song be sung by another vocalist.[32]

1."Round and Round"Heize and Han Soo-ji03:22
2."Round and Round" (instrumental) 03:22
Total length:06:44
Disc 2:
1."Amnesia"Various Artists3:09
2."Butterfly"Various Artists1:13
3."Dark Walk"Various Artists4:34
4."Eun Tak's Waltz"Various Artists3:04
5."First Love"Various Artists5:54
6."God's Supper"Various Artists3:01
7."Memory Loss"Various Artists3:07
8."Prayer"Various Artists1:45
9."SamShin and Deok Hwa"Various Artists2:16
10."Small house near the beach"Various Artists1:25
11."Sparkling Wind"Various Artists3:09
12."The glittering wind"Various Artists3:13
13."Their Only Memories"Various Artists2:06
14."When the time Stops"Various Artists2:05
15."When you open the door"Various Artists3:15
16."Whistling"Various Artists2:35
17."Warrior's Sword"Various Artists1:04
18."Warrior's Song"Various Artists3:33

Chart performanceEdit

Title Year Peak chart positions Sales Remarks
"Stay With Me"
(Chanyeol (EXO), Punch)
2016 3 3 Part 1
"My Eyes"
7 Part 2
(Lasse Lindh)
6 Part 3
2 7 Part 4
"You Are So Beautiful"
(Eddy Kim)
5 Part 5
"Who Are You"
(Sam Kim)
3 15 Part 6
"I Miss You"
(Soyou (Sistar))
5 11 Part 7
"First Snow"
(Jung Joon-il)
9 Part 8
"I Will Go to You Like the First Snow"
2017 1 10 Part 9
(Urban Zakapa)
2 Part 10
"And I'm Here"
(Kim Kyung-hee (April 2))
34 18 Part 11
"Winter is Coming"
(Han Soo-ji)
"Stuck in Love"
(Kim Kyung-hee (April 2))
(Roy Kim, Kim EZ (GGot Jam Project))
16 Part 12
4 Part 13
"Round and Round"
(Heize & Han Soo-ji)
4 4 Part 14
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that region.
Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
Goblin OST Pack 1


The drama was a hit and consistently topped cable television viewership ratings in its timeslot. Its final episode recorded an 18.680% nationwide audience share according to Nielsen paid platform, making the episode the second highest rated in Korean cable television history.[6] It became the first cable drama to surpass 20% ratings.[50] It was also popular among the international audience,[51] which led to parodies of the drama on various social media sites, notably by both celebrities and political figures.[52]

The drama has also sparked various fashion trends.[53] Items and accessories worn by the cast members, such as the Lanvin coat worn by Gong Yoo, Lancôme lipstick used by Kim Go-eun[54] and Fedora worn by Lee Dong-wook[55] saw an increase in sales. Kim In-yook's poetry book, The Physics of Love, gained renewed attention after one of its verses was featured in the drama.[56] There was also an increase in visitors at the various filming sites of Guardian, which contributed to a positive economic effect on the country.[57] Additionally, original soundtracks featured in the series also topped local digital music charts.[58] Since 2017, it has surpassed Descendants of the Sun (2016) in video-on-demand sales.[59]

Its success was attributed to the creative plot.[60] The Korea Times stated, "...the depth of perspective looking at life of the goblin that bears a bloody sword in his chest and has been given eternal life as punishment, immerses the audience into the fantasy story. The twist and complexity of life and death make the story more interesting."[61]

Despite its success, Guardian (as well as Kim Eun-sook's previous hit-drama Descendants of the Sun in 2016)[62] was criticized for its several consumer product placements which drew an estimated 2-4 billion KRW from revenue.[63][64][65] TV and cultural critics also criticized some aspects of the drama. The female lead being able to summon the male lead, who has supernatural powers, was criticized by some as an example of Cinderella complex. Furthermore the female lead portrayed a poor high school student attracted to the male lead's rich 30-something man (which the show poked fun of when a classmate described him as a "sugar daddy").[63][66]. The drama was also criticized for its over-dramatic plot.[64]


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

Ep. Original broadcast date Average audience share
AGB Nielsen[67] TNmS
Nationwide Seoul Nationwide
1 December 2, 2016 6.322% 7.540% 6.7%
2 December 3, 2016 7.904% 10.024% 8.1%
3 December 9, 2016 12.471% 14.274% 12.0%
4 December 10, 2016 11.373% 13.768% 12.7%
5 December 16, 2016 11.507% 12.075% 14.0%
6 December 17, 2016 11.618% 14.772% 13.0%
7 December 23, 2016 12.297% 13.993% 13.8%
8 December 24, 2016 12.344% 14.748% 11.6%
9 December 30, 2016 12.933% 13.333% 14.6%
10 December 31, 2016 12.702% 14.551% 13.3%
11 January 6, 2017 13.894% 15.749% 14.8%
12 January 7, 2017 13.712% 15.680% 14.6%
13 January 13, 2017 14.254% 16.525% 15.3%
14 January 20, 2017 16.043% 17.767% 16.3%
15 January 21, 2017 16.917% 18.829% 17.7%
16 18.680% 20.986% 19.6%
Average 12.811% 14.663% 13.6%
Special January 14, 2017 9.427% 11.786% 9.1%[68]
February 3, 2017 3.606% 5.050% 3.9%[69]
February 4, 2017 4.075% 5.582% 4.2%[69]
  • Episode 14 was postponed as additional time was needed to work on the special graphics.[70]
  • Episodes 15 and 16 were shown back-to-back on January 21, 2017.

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
First Brand Awards
Special Award Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Won
11th Korean Cable TV Awards
Best Drama Won [71]
Best OST Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won
Rising Star Award Yook Sung-jae Won
VOD Broadcasting Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Won
5th Annual DramaFever Awards
Best Actor Gong Yoo Won [72]
Best Supporting Actor Lee Dong-wook Won
Best Supporting Actress Yoo In-na Won
Best Couple Gong Yoo & Kim Go-eun Won
Best Melodrama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Won
53rd Baeksang Arts Awards
Grand Prize (Daesang) Kim Eun-sook Won [73]
Best Drama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Nominated
Best Director Lee Eung-bok Nominated
Best Screenplay Kim Eun-sook Nominated
Best Actor Gong Yoo Won
Best Actress Kim Go-eun Nominated
12th Asia Model Awards
Asia OST Popularity Chanyeol (EXO), Punch (Stay With Me) Won
Brand of the Year Awards
Actor of the Year Gong Yoo Won
12th Seoul International Drama Awards
Outstanding Korean Drama OST Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won [74]
1st Soribada Best K-Music Awards
Best Hallyu OST Won [75]
10th Korea Drama Awards
Best Drama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Won [76]
Best Production Director Lee Eung-bok Nominated
Best Screenplay Kim Eun-sook Nominated
Top Excellence Award, Actor Lee Dong-wook Nominated
Top Excellence Award, Actress Kim Go-eun Nominated
Excellence Award, Actress Yoo In-na Nominated
Best New Actor Yook Sung-jae Won
Best Original Soundtrack Crush (Beautiful) Nominated
Soyou (I Miss You) Nominated
Star of the Year Award Yook Sung-jae Won
Popular Character Award Kim Byung-chul Won
Park Kyung-hye Won
3rd Fashionista Awards
Best Fashionista – TV & Film Division Gong Yoo Nominated
Yoo In-na Nominated
Global Icon Lee Dong-wook Nominated
2nd Asia Artist Awards
Best OST Award Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won [77]
22nd Asian Television Awards
Best Drama Series Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Nominated [78]
19th Mnet Asian Music Awards
Best OST Chanyeol (Exo), Punch (Stay With Me) Nominated [79]
Crush (Beautiful) Nominated
Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won
9th Melon Music Awards
Song of the Year Nominated [80]
Best OST Award Won
Kakao Hot Star Nominated
Crush (Beautiful) Nominated
32nd Golden Disc Awards
Best OST Award Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won [81]
27th Seoul Music Awards
Best OST Award Won [82]

International broadcastEdit

  • In Brunei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, the drama aired on Oh!K with subtitles. It was retitled as "Goblin" in promotional materials and during broadcast.[83] It was premiered on December 3, 2016, 24 hours after its original broadcast in South Korea.[84]
  • In Sri Lanka, Brunei, Malaysia, the Maldives and Vietnam, the drama is available to stream on-demand on Iflix. It was retitled as "Goblin" in promotional materials.[85] During its original run, episodes of the drama were exclusively streamed on Iflix within 24 hours of its original South Korean broadcast with subtitles between December 3, 2016, and January 22, 2017.[86]
  • In Japan, the drama was premiered in March 2017 on Mnet Japan.[87] Later in 2018, it was premiered both on TV Tokyo with Hanryu Premiere on 21 May and BS Fuji on 13 September, both channels with the Japanese dub.
  • The series is available on-demand on Viu in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia with English, Chinese, Indonesian and Malay subtitles.
  • Outside of Asia, the drama streams on DramaFever and Viki with subtitles.
  • In Thailand, the drama aired in early 2017 on True4U.[88]
  • In the Philippines, the series was premiered on ABS-CBN on May 8, 2017, replacing Love in the Moonlight on its Primetime Bida block. On November 13, 2017 the series was re-aired on its Kapamilya Gold block, dubbed in Filipino.[89] It was re-shown on Asianovela Channel, starting on July 30, 2018.
  • In Cambodia, the drama was premiered on July 24, 2017 on Town TV.
  • In Indonesia, it was shown on GTV, on Mondays to Fridays at 14:00 starting on October 2, 2017.
  • In Singapore, it aired on Channel U, on Mondays to Fridays at 10pm starting on November 27, 2017.[90]
  • In Hong Kong, Macau, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, the drama began on tvN Asia with a variety of subtitles on January 23, 2018.[91]
  • In Bangladesh, the drama is available to stream on-demand on Iflix. It was retitled as "Goblin" in promotional materials. It is also dubbed in Bengali in the app.
  • In Bulgaria, it premiered on May 21, 2020, from Mondays to Fridays at 21:00pm.


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External linksEdit