‘Tale Of The Nine Tailed 1938’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending, Explained: Did Lee Yeon Return To Present Day?


There was never a reason not to like “Tale of the Nine Tailed” when it first aired in 2020. It was pure fun, and the balcony scene has us swooning to this day. It is worth risking your life if someone is going to protect you like that. We believe we liked it so much simply because of how unhinged Lee Yeon was. All that love and responsibility, tempered by the eccentricity of immortality, made him dangerous and endearing at the same time. Not to mention that after his stint as the vegetarian Grim Reaper in “Goblin,” we just couldn’t get enough of him. That is why we were so excited for the sequel. Yes, it is a sequel and not a prequel just because it is set in a previous time period than that of 2020, when the original story took place. But back to the point: we just wanted to see more of Lee Dong Wook. Nobody acts out exasperated charm as well as he does while looking so good in that shade of red hair. The first episode of “Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938” just gives us the introduction of the characters while being a tribute to the fans of Lee Yeon. Here is a recap of it.

Spoilers Alert

Why Does Lee Yeon Go To 1938?

Four months after the events of “Tale of the Nine Tailed,” that is, the death of Lee Rang, Yeon is arguing with Taluipa (the guardian of the river of the dead), demanding that she reincarnate his brother. In return for granting him what he wants, Taluipa demands that Lee Yeon return to his previous job of punishing the supernatural beings which disturb the living. This would require Yeon to become a Gumiho again. Yeon agrees but demands that he doesn’t want to live forever; instead, he will die when Ji Ah does. With this contract sealed, Yeon is back to being a hunter-fox. It would have continued this way smoothly, but a masked man steals the “boundary stone,” a stone that marks the boundary of the stream of the dead. This means that all of the evil spirits are spilling out into the world, and Taluipa is barely holding them off. Lee Yeon must get the stone back at any cost. The thief has run off to the past, to 1938, and that is where Yeon must retrieve the stone from, within hours. This mission was delivered with admirable brand placement, and we appreciate it.

How Did Lee Yeon Meet Lee Rang In 1938?

1938 was when Korea was fighting for its independence from Japan, and Lee Yeon landed right in the middle of all this. Yeon spots the masked man, and in the scuffle following the chase, the stone ends up with a thug who runs away with it. Lee Yeon is not able to follow him immediately because he stops to help the Koreans revolting against the Japanese. We love it when a bit of patriotism is sprinkled in. Either way, the thug works for Lee Rang, who is currently a bandit. That is what he had been doing for 30 years, if not more. We wonder whether immortal people have any fantasies since their long lives must give them a chance to live so many lives and situations anyway.

Either way, the thugs are wolves, and Lee Rang is their leader. Yeon is happy to see him, but Rang gets him into trouble because he is doubtful of his intentions. A few “scuffles” later, Yeon convinces Rang of his good intentions and brotherly love by taking a blow. That would have been it, and Yeon would have left with the stone, but just then, the masked man comes out of nowhere and fatally wounds Lee Rang, causing Yeon to stay back. Right now, he must save Rang’s life at any cost, and his brother asks him to take him to Myoyeongak.

Does Lee Yeon Go Back To The Present Day?

Myoyeongak is apparently the second-best restaurant in town, but Lee Yeon cannot figure out why Rang asked him to come here. Then he spots a demon who can increase people’s lifespans, and it all makes sense. This demon is called “Long Living Dong Bang Sak.” We gathered from the series that he is the being in stories who is said to have the longest life span. Our personal research suggests that his long life span was an eyesore for the spiritual realm, though, in the series, he asks Lee Yeon to bring back the sword of Uturi, which is the only thing that can kill him. Lee Yeon is running out of time, but he must save his brother. The problem is that in 1938, the sword’s master was Lee Yeon himself, who was in one of his worst states ever. He was an opium addict who was driving himself mad, longing for his first love, Ah Eum. All we will say is that he gets the sword, and Lee Yeon 2023 and Lee Yeon 1938 should interact more.

Back in Myoyeongak, Lee Rang is floating outside his body, and he discovers that Dong Bang Sak steals people’s lives instead of increasing them. Bang Sak wants Lee Rang’s lifespan since a fox is immortal. But the women at Myoyeongak hide Lee Rang’s body since it was requested by Lee Yeon, who was suspicious of Bang Sak to begin with. This ruse doesn’t last long, and Bang Sak finds Rang’s body, though he doesn’t harm him yet. When Yeon comes back with the sword, he tells Bang Sak that he always knew what his true intentions were but just acted along because he needed to protect his brother. Bang Sak and Lee Yeon get into a fight, and Lee Rang comes to the rescue by occupying the body of a girl Bang Sak had killed hours before. Lee Rang tells Yeon that Bang Sak is one of the ten longevity symbols, a turtle. Basically, Korean artists grouped together ten things found in nature that signified longevity. That is because ten is considered a complete and perfect number. Joseon art was known for using these elements in a lot of work used for celebratory functions and just otherwise as well. We believe there is a slight timeline error here. The timeline of the Joseon era is from 1392 to 1910. This series is set in 1938, almost two decades later. But we suppose this is a passable thing.

Once Yeon discovers Bang Sak’s weakness, he and Rang repeatedly demand his head, which causes Bang Sak to start turning into a turtle. When he is at his most vulnerable, Yeon cuts his head off with the sword, which ends his life and restores Rang and the girl’s. But this entire ordeal caused the time to run out, and Lee Yeon is stuck in 1938. At the end of Episode 1 of “Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938,” we see Ryu Hong Joo, a longtime associate of Lee Yeon, preparing to meet him. From the looks of it, she probably has a crush on Lee Yeon. Well, who wouldn’t? We also suspect that she knows that this is Lee Yeon from the future. Currently, everyone introduced in the episode is on a train that is going somewhere. The next episode will tell us where it leads them.

Final Thoughts

The first episode of “Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938” also saw the introduction of Yoo Ri, who is a powerful mortal by the name of Ginko Tawara who works as a reporter for Seunwoo Daily. Another character by the name of Cheon Moo Young, who can control fire, is in the episode. The coming story will tell us how they are tied to the supernatural realm through Yeon. Right now, we have everything we want, from Yeon’s comedy and charm to a healthy dose of good storytelling. The coming episodes will tell us how well the series delivers everything we expect from it.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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