Guardian: The Lonely and Great God

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Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
Promotional poster
Also known asGoblin[1]
쓸쓸하고 찬란하神 – 도깨비
Literal meaningThe Lonely and Great God – Goblin
Revised RomanizationSseulsseulhago Challanhasin – Dokkaebi[a]
McCune–ReischauerSsŭlssŭlhago Ch'allanhasin – Tokkaebi
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 directors
  • 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
ComposerNam Hye-seung
Country of originSouth Korea
Original languageKorean
No. of episodes16 + 3 specials[2]
Executive producers
  • Kim Beom-rae
  • Yoon Ha-rim
  • Joo Kyung-ha
  • Kim Ji-yeon
Production locations
  • Park Sung-yong
  • Kang Yoon-soon
EditorLee Sang-rok
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time60–90 minutes[3]
Production companyHwa&Dam Pictures
Original networktvN
Original releaseDecember 2, 2016 (2016-12-02) –
January 21, 2017 (2017-01-21)

Guardian: The Lonely and Great God[4][5] (Korean쓸쓸하고 찬란하神 – 도깨비) is a South Korean television series starring Gong Yoo in the title role, alongside Kim Go-eun, Lee Dong-wook, Yoo In-na, and Yook Sung-jae. Written by Kim Eun-sook, the series aired on tvN from December 2, 2016, to January 21, 2017.[6]

Its final episode recorded an 18.68% nationwide audience share, making it the sixth highest-rated drama in Korean cable television history.[7] It received critical acclaim and became a cultural phenomenon in South Korea.[8] The series won numerous awards, including the Grand Prize (Daesang) for writer Kim Eun-sook and Best Actor for Gong Yoo at the 53rd 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, enduring the pain of seeing his loved ones die as punishment for the soldiers he killed 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. Ji Eun-tak starts working a part-time job at a chicken store run by a charismatic young woman, Sunny (Yoo In-na).

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 940-year-old immortal goblin and protector of souls who is in search for his bride, who is 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 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 before ultimately killing him with the very sword that is lodged in his chest. As both a reward for the good he had done for his country, and a punishment for all the deaths that he caused, the Almighty God grants him immortality. As he has lived for centuries, he feels lonely and depressed as he has to watch his loved ones and those around him pass away. This is until he slowly falls in love with his bride who gives him a reason to live again.
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 the Grim Reaper 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 life insurance money. She immediately becomes interested in the Goblin, who takes her in his home so she can pass her exams and enroll in university, while he begins to rediscover the joy of living through her. Originally oblivious to her duty of removing the sword from the Goblin's chest, she eventually learns the truth and struggles with the decision of fulfilling her duty as she has fallen in love with the Goblin.
A good-looking, cynical yet humorous grim reaper (Angel of Death) who guides souls to their reincarnations or afterlives and Kim Shin's housemate. Along with many other grim reapers, he became a grim reaper after committing the greatest sin of all in his past life. He has no memory of his past lives, but does possess supernatural powers. Originally preferring to be by himself, he falls in love with a chicken restaurant owner named Sunny who eventually reciprocates his feelings. Through her, he begins to unlock clues to his memories and who he was in the past. His past life was revealed to be the young king: Wang Yeo. Despite the king's original pleasant personality, he became corrupted by the power hungry eunuch and orders his guards to kill everyone including his own wife and his loyal general, Kim Shin. This act drove Wang Yeo insane and caused him to ultimately take his own life.
The attractive owner of a chicken restaurant who hires Ji Eun-tak. The Grim Reaper begins to fall in love with her, and she soon returns his affection, although she is constantly confused by the Grim Reaper's constant social awkwardness. In her past life, it is revealed that she was the younger sister of General Kim Shin and she became the queen upon marrying King Wang Yeo (now the Grim Reaper). The couple were happily in love until the eunuch began to warp the mind of the king. When Wang Yeo tried to exile his loyal general Kim Shin, she supported her brother as he stood up to the king's ridiculous order and was executed as a result.
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. He originally is a spoiled young adult who was only looking after the Goblin in order to receive a new credit card (after he was cut off). However, he learns of the Goblin and the Grim Reaper's true identities, and the trio grew to become strong friends. It is later revealed that the Almighty God had taken over his body for a period of time so that he could enact his plan of intertwining the lives of Kim Shin, Ji Eun-tak, The Grim Reaper, and Sunny



Ghosts around Eun-tak[edit]

  • Ahn Ji-hyun as Go Jung-hyun, the ghost in the library who was Eun-tak's mother's best friend
  • Park Kyung-hye as Virgin Ghost, who always tries to take Eun-tak with her
  • Park Se-wan as Go Shi-won, the ghost who asked Eun-tak to clean her dormitory and fill it up with food so that her mother will not be sad (Ep. 2, 4–5)
  • Kim So-ra [ko] as Lee Jung-hwa, a vengeance ghost whose husband killed her (Ep. 4, 6–7, 9, 11)
  • Go Soo-jung as a ghost (Ep. 2)

People around Eun-tak[edit]

  • Noh Gang-min as the boy in the back-alley of the chicken shop who thinks he has wind powers
  • Kim Min-young as Park Soo-jin, Eun-tak's schoolmate who harasses her and takes pictures of her and the Goblin
  • Go Bo-gyeol as Kim Yoon-ah, Eun-tak's class president who defends her and later becomes her friend
  • Kim Nan-hee as Eun-tak's homeroom teacher who discriminates against her because she's an orphan
  • Ma Min-hee as one of Soo-jin's friends
  • Yoon Hee-kyung as one of Soo-jin's friends

Grim Reapers around Wang Yeo[edit]

  • Kim Ki-doo [ko] as a Batch 21 Grim Reaper who is Wang Yeo's friend and colleague and is very serious about his work
  • Choi Woong as Wang Yeo's junior grim reaper who lives in the rooftop above Sunny's apartment
  • Jo Hyun-sik as a Batch 22 Grim Reaper
  • Kim Chang-hwan [ko] as a Batch 23 Grim Reaper
  • Yun Da-yeong as a Batch 23 Grim Reaper who was once Wang Yeo's Court Lady


  • Kim Nam-hee as Overworked doctor in ER
  • Yoon Kyung-ho as Kim Woo-sik, Kim Shin's loyal lieutenant from the Goryeo era (Ep. 1, 12, 14)
  • Lee Moon-soo as a loyal old man from the Goryeo era who kept Kim Shin's body (Ep. 1)
  • Nam Da-reum as Kim Soo-bok, the boy who met the Goblin in Paris (Ep. 1, 4)
  • Park Jin Woo as Loan Shark (Ep. 2–3, 6)
  • Yoon Joo-man as Loan Shark (Ep. 2–3, 6)
  • Lee Seul-bi as a vain woman at café (Ep. 3)
  • Kim Hyun-mok as Bus Passenger (Ep. 8)
  • Kim Hye-yoon as the young era of a widowed old lady (Ep. 15)

Special appearances[edit]


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, Quebec, 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 soundtrack[edit]


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]
Disc 1
1."Round and Round"Heize & Han Soo-ji3:27
2."Stay With Me"Chanyeol & Punch3:12
3."My Eyes" (내 눈에만 보여)10cm2:37
4."Hush"Lasse Lindh4:20
6."You Are So Beautiful" (이쁘다니까)Eddy Kim3:15
7."Who Are You"Sam Kim4:21
8."I Miss You"Soyou2:49
9."First Snow" (첫 눈)Jung Joon-il4:56
10."I Will Go to You Like the First Snow" (첫눈처럼 너에게 가겠다)Ailee3:49
11."Wish" (소원)Urban Zakapa3:56
12."Heaven"Roy Kim & Kim EZ4:19
14."And I'm Here"Kim Kyung-hee4:07
15."Winter is Coming"Han Soo-ji2:30
16."Stuck in Love"Kim Kyung-hee2:39
Total length:57:01
Disc 2
1."Dark Walk"Various Artists4:34
2."Butterfly" (나비)Various Artists1:13
3."First Love" (처음사랑)Various Artists4:54
4."When You Open the Door" (문을 열고 나가면)Various Artists3:15
5."Eun-tak's Waltz" (은탁의 왈츠)Various Artists3:04
6."Sparkling Wind" (반짝이는 바람)Various Artists3:12
7."Small Beach House" (바닷가 작은집)Various Artists1:25
8."When Time Stops" (시간이 멈출 때)Various Artists2:25
9."One Day After A Hundred Years" (그렇게 백년을 살아 어느날)Various Artists0:18
10."Amnesia (기억상실)"Various Artists3:07
11."Their Only Moments" (그들만의 시간)Various Artists2:06
12."No God's Sword" (무신검)Various Artists1:02
13."The Future I Saw Was Right" (내가 본 미래가 맞았구나)Various Artists0:34
14."Whistling" (휘파람을 불며)Various Artists2:35
15."Samshin & Deok-hwa" (삼신과 덕화)Various Artists2:10
16."Feast of the Deities" (신들의 만찬)Various Artists3:01
17."Pray" (기도)Various Artists1:45
18."For That Excuse, I Wish I Could Stay Alive" (그 핑계로 내가 계속 살아 있었으면 좋겠어)Various Artists0:54
19."Warriors Song"Various Artists4:34
Total length:46:08


Original soundtrack (Part 1–14)

Part 1

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

Part 2

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

Part 3

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

Part 4

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

Part 5

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

Part 6

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

Part 7

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

Part 8

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

Part 9

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" (Inst.) 03:50
Total length:07:40

Part 10

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

Part 11

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 12

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

Part 13

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

Part 14

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" (Inst.) 03:22
Total length:06:44

Chart performance[edit]

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 series was popular among the international audience,[50] which led to parodies of the drama on various social media sites, notably by both celebrities and political figures.[51]

The drama has also sparked various fashion trends.[52] Items and accessories worn by the cast members, such as the Lanvin coat worn by Gong Yoo, Lancôme lipstick used by Kim Go-eun[53] and Fedora worn by Lee Dong-wook[54] 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.[55] There was also an increase in visitors at the various filming sites of Guardian, which contributed to a positive economic effect on the country.[56] Additionally, original soundtracks featured in the series also topped local digital music charts.[57] Since 2017, it has surpassed Descendants of the Sun (2016) in video-on-demand sales.[58]

The Korea Times stated, "Its success was attributed to the creative plot" and "...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."[59][60]

Despite its success, Guardian was criticized for its several consumer product placements which drew an estimated 2-4 billion KRW from revenue.[61][62][63] TV and cultural critics also criticized some aspects of the drama; such as the Cinderella complex feature in the series, where female lead is able to summon the male lead, who has supernatural powers. 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".[61][64] The drama was also criticized for its over-dramatic plot.[62]


The drama consistently topped cable television viewership ratings in its time slot. 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.[7] It became the first cable drama to surpass 20% ratings.[65]

Ep. Original broadcast date Average audience share
AGB Nielsen[66] 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[b] 16.043% 17.767% 16.3%
15 January 21, 2017[c] 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]
  • In this table, the blue numbers represent the lowest ratings and the red numbers represent the highest ratings.
  • This series aired on a cable channel/pay TV which normally has a relatively smaller audience compared to free-to-air TV/public broadcasters (KBS, SBS, MBC and EBS).

Awards and nominations[edit]

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 [70]
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 [71]
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
Grand Prize (Daesang) Kim Eun-sook Won [72]
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
Outstanding Korean Drama OST Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won [73]
Best Hallyu OST Won [74]
Best Drama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Won [75]
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
Best OST Award Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won [76]
Best Drama Series Guardian: The Lonely and Great God Nominated [77]
Best OST Chanyeol (Exo), Punch (Stay With Me) Nominated [78]
Crush (Beautiful) Nominated
Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won
9th Melon Music Awards Song of the Year Nominated [79]
Best OST Award Won
Kakao Hot Star Nominated
Crush (Beautiful) Nominated
2018 Best OST Award Ailee (I Will Go to You Like the First Snow) Won [80]
Best OST Award Won [81]


  1. ^ Dokkaebi is a creature from Korean mythology and folklore.
  2. ^ Episode 14 was postponed as additional time was needed to work on the special graphics.[67]
  3. ^ Episodes 15 and 16 were shown back-to-back on January 21, 2017.


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  7. ^ a b "January 21, 2017 Nationwide Cable Ratings" (in Korean). Nielsen Korea. 1st (tvN) 쓸쓸하고찬란하신도깨비<본> 18.680%
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    - '도깨비' 이동욱, 저승사자→왕여 변신…비극적 운명 예고. Sports Khan (in Korean). January 5, 2017. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "'Goblin' will star Yoo and Yook". Korea JoongAng Daily. August 31, 2016.
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  15. ^ "[Oh!쎈 톡] '도깨비' 정해인 "잘생긴 태희오빠?..공유 선배가 더 멋지죠"". Osen (in Korean). December 30, 2016.
  16. ^ "극구 부인하던 tvN ´도깨비´, 결국 ´태후´ 이응복 PD가 연출 – 일간스포츠". Joins. August 29, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
  17. ^ "'Descendants' writer, director team up for new fantasy piece". The Korea Herald. November 22, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
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  19. ^ '도깨비' 공유, '찬란하神' 장군 눈빛...데뷔 첫 사극 연기 도전. 10Asia (in Korean). Retrieved November 15, 2016.
    - '도깨비' 공유, 우수에 찬 첫 촬영 포착…몽환적 분위기. My Daily (in Korean). Retrieved October 14, 2016.
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  34. ^ Cumulative sales "My Eyes":
  35. ^ Cumulative sales for "Hush":
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  37. ^ Cumulative sales for "You Are So Beautiful":
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  40. ^ Cumulative sales for "First Snow":
  41. ^ Cumulative sales for "I Will Go to You Like the First Snow":
  42. ^ Cumulative sales for "Wish":
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  44. ^ Cumulative sales for "Heaven":
  45. ^ Cumulative sales for "Love":
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External links[edit]