Tale of the Nine-Tailed Ending: Is Lee Yeon a fox or human at the end?

In the series finale of Tale Of The Nine-Tailed, we are left with a mystery. Most threads come together in the finale: Yeon and Ji-Ah reunite, there is a clear hint at Lee Rang’s successful reincarnation, and Yeon fights The Spirit of Misfortune for Ji-Ah.

However, Yeon is still a gumiho, the nine-tailed mythical fox. When Yeon is reincarnated due to his brother Rang’s sacrifice, it is assumed that he is reborn as a human, that is, without his gumiho powers.

But during the face-off with the Spirit of Misfortune, we see Yeon drawing out his trusted umbrella, which transforms into a sword. We even notice his eyes dazzling in the dark, proving he still has magical powers.

I was initially quite confused at the ending. However, when I learned a little more about Korean legends and folktales that form the show’s premise, the twist made more sense.

1. Is Lee Yeon still a fox at the end?

Yeon is still a fox. Though he reincarnates as a human, he still has gumiho powers, as seen in the finale.

During his face-off with the Spirit of Misfortune, he can draw his sword, and his eyes shine in the dark.

Is Lee Yeon still a fox in Tale of the Nine-Tailed Ending?
Kim So-yeon, Lee Dong-wook, and Ryu Kyung-Soo in Tale of the Nine Tailed | Source: IMDb

2. How do we figure out whether Lee Yeon is still a fox?

Before analyzing whether Yeon is still a fox, let us delve a bit into Korean folktales and myths featuring gumihos. Gumihos are nine-tailed foxes with magical powers who can transform into their human form when they desire.

Yes, it is similar to the legend of werewolves. However, there are specific ways a gumiho can permanently become a human. Yeon’s ultimate goal was to become human and spend his life with Ji-Ah.

According to a legend, one of the ways for a gumiho to become human is this: Over 100 days (the period varies as per different versions), if a gumiho in his human form is not detected to be a gumiho by their significant other, they can turn into a human.

But if a gumiho is caught by their partner, they will lose the chance to become human and remain a gumiho for 1000 years. Oops.

So, let us consider that Yeon was still a fox when he came back to life, which is why he could enter the Office of the Afterlife. It is, however, strange that Taluipa or even Shin-Ju could not sense that Yeon still had his gumiho powers.

Is Lee Yeon still a fox in Tale of the Nine-Tailed Ending?
Lee Dong-wook in Tale of the Nine Tailed (2020) | Source: IMDb

But if we go by the legend, Yeon probably did not want Ji-Ah to know his secret. So, he kept his reality a secret from everyone to avoid any chance of Ji-Ah getting to know about it.

Another giveaway in the show that Yeon is still a gumiho is his strange prediction that Ji-ah and he will have a daughter. Remember the first episode where it is said that gumihos can see miles ahead? It was Yeon’s ability at work with which he could sense the future.

The only way to prove that Yeon is a gumiho is to see him on a moon night. So he uses an entire moon night to use his gumiho powers to fight the Spirit of Misfortune, getting rid of another threat.

Yeon is still a gumiho. Now, whether or not he was journeying to become a human was not mentioned in the show. It is just my assumption. But this could be one of the potential reasons why he kept his powers hidden.

3. Why Did Yeon Lie About His Powers?

If we go by the legend that a gumiho loses a chance to become human if caught by their significant other, it is clear why Lee Yeon kept his powers a secret.

If his significant other (in this case, Ji-ah) finds out about Yeon’s powers, then Yeon will lose the chance to become human for the next 1000 years. Moreover, he probably did not want to disturb Ji-Ah’s peace of mind.

Yeon lied about his powers to keep this from Ji-Ah and subsequently hid the same from everyone around so that there is no way the news reaches Ji-Ah. It is, after all, better to be safe than sorry.

Also, the theme of the show is love before anything. Yeon must hold onto his powers to protect his loved ones, particularly Ji-Ah. Hence, even if the show does not follow the legend, there are ways to explain why Yeon is still a fox and why he lied.

It was at the end only for Ji-Ah’s safety and peace of mind.

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4. About Tale Of The Nine Tailed

Tale of the Nine Tailed is a South-Korean fantasy television drama starring Lee Dong-wook, Jo Bo-ah and Kim Bum. It aired on TvN from 7th October, 2020 to 3rd December, 2020.

Directed by Kang Shin-hyo and Jo Nam-hyung, the series tells the story of Lee Yeon (Lee Dong-wook), an over 1000-years-old Gumiho (nine tailed fox) who is on the look out for his long lost first love who has reincarnated in the mortal world. Besides that, Yeon also fights evil spirits that can harm the mortal world and its inhabitants.


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