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Manhwa / The Bride of the Water God

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The Bride of the Water God (하백의 신부) is an ongoing sunjeong manhwa by Yun Mi-Kyung, detailing the story of So-ah, a girl unfortunate enough to be beautiful, she is sacrificed to the river god so that the long drought plaguing her village will end. But instead of drowning, Soah finds herself inexplicably alive and brought to the palace of the child-like river god Habaek as his bride. As So-ah adjusts to living among gods, she struggles to learn more about the aloof Habaek and finds it increasingly hard to find somebody to trust in her new world. During all of this, she finds herself falling in love with Habaek's handsome and mysterious 'cousin' Mui, while uncovering the truth behind the yearly sacrifice.

The English version is published by Dark Horse Comics.

It was loosely adapted into a 2017 series, The Bride of Habaek.



  • Abusive Parents: So-ah's father. He gets better.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Yang-hee was feared for her nature as a goddess of death. Also the emperor for his Mind Reading powers.
  • Always Save the Girl: Habaek to Soah, even if it means losing his friends, family, and status as a god.
  • Arranged Marriage
  • Back from the Dead: Nak-bin, except not really.
  • The Beautiful Elite
  • Brought Down to Normal: Habaek; though he still has Involuntary Shapeshifting.
  • Cain and Abel: The sub-plot is about a war between gods; specifically between the emperor and his brother Shin-Nong.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Habaek's father, Dong Wang Kong; since he has being on the moon palace for 7,000 years, he has forgotten what a human looks like, even asking So-ah if she was a man or a woman.
  • Costume Porn: Everybody, from peasant to god seems to have impossible cool Korean clothes.
  • Advertisement:
  • Country Mouse: So-ah.
  • Decadent Court: The head spins and the nose bleeds trying to determine the wheels within wheels of both Habaek's court and the Emperor's court.
  • Devoted to You: Habaek to Nakbin, even when he knew she is long dead and even if it meant being away from Soah. Also, Hoo-ye to Nakbin, which eventually leads him to have an agreement with Wang Mo to let Nakbin be resurrected in the human world.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Nakbin died twice in Habaek's embrace. Also Mura with Bi Ryeom.
  • Divine Date: So-ah and Nakbin are the human brides of water god Habaek. However, Nakbin is half god herself.
  • Eye Scream: Nak-bin commanded Habaek not to look at other women with both his eyes which Habaek agreed.
  • Facial Markings: It seems "evil" gods have them.
    • Wang Mo has a little on her forehead. Maybe to show though she's a death goddess, she isn't bad.
    • Mura has a large one over her left eye.
    • The emperor has a large one on his forehead.
  • Fake–Real Turn: So-ah was actually a fake bride. Another girl was selected by the shaman to be sacrificed as Habaek's bride but So-ah's father sold her out to be the bride in replacement. But after time, Habaek did really fall in love with So-ah and she earned her right to be Habaek's bride all on her own.
  • Seers: Yo-hee.
  • First Love: Habaek and Nakbin.
  • Freudian Excuse: The emperor. He felt like his mother Yo-hee preferred his brother Shin-Nong over him and that Yang-hee chose Dong Wang Kong over him.
  • Generation Xerox: Hoo-yee and Habaek's Love Triangle for So-ah and her ultimate choice for Habaek resembles the emperor (Hoo-yee's father) and Dong Wang Kong's Love Triangle for Wang Mo.
  • Human Sacrifice: Soah being sacrificed to Habaek triggers the whole story.
  • I Have Many Names: Gods have their god name, their given name, and their real name which nobody but them knows.
  • I Will Wait for You: Habaek promised to wait for the reincarnated Nakbin and return to her no matter what form she may appear, though it's doubtful if this will be fulfilled considering his marriage to So-ah now that Nakbin is actually reincarnated without a memory somewhere in the human world.
  • Intimate Healing: Somewhat. Wang Mo gives So-ah a medicine made with the divine peach to save Habaek's life and So-ah gives it to him mouth-to-mouth.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Habaek is a child under the sunlight and an adult (his true form) at night.
    • Recently now the shapeshift is: Adult when he's away from So-ah, child when she's close.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Wang Mo, Habaek's mother, will do anything to protect him. This comes to bite her when she tries to take So-ah's life to "protect" him, but he decides to take the bullet.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: So-ah, when she is sent back to the human world, cannot remember her time in the Water Kingdom. Habaek appears to have this after being drugged, but as it turns out, he is only pretending to have lost his memories of So-ah.
  • Living MacGuffin: Habaek is an important piece to either side to win the war; since he decided to be True Neutral, the emperor use any chance to trying to convince him to join him.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Mura is this for the Chung Yo mountains.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: EVERYONE but Soah knows Habaek has two forms.
  • The Lost Lenore: Nakbin.
  • Love at First Sight: Habaek foolishly fell for the child Nakbin and promised himself that he would have her.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Mura takes this up to eleven. So does the Emperor.
  • MacGuffin: The last peach of a magical tree that can give immortality.
  • Mama Bear: Wang Mo.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Yeohwa and Woo-hui.
  • Marriage to a God: The entire premise.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Habaek is fully aware of this, but he only takes human brides for the sake of waiting Nakbin's reincarnation.
  • Naïve Newcomer: So-ah
  • Noodle People
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse:
    • Hunwon to Nakbin. He will help her save Hoo-ye from dying in exchange of becoming his instrument to get Habaek.
    • Hoo-yee to Wang Mo. He will give her the last peach of the divine tree to save Mui's life in return of Wang Mo letting Nak-bin resurrect as a normal human again. After she refuses, saying such a thing was impossible, Hoo-yee lets her have the mental load of her guilt for being the one that hurt her own son.
  • Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome: Seriously, anytime it seems the relationship between So-ah and Habaek is going farther, the universe brings some new challenge to their love.
  • Opposites Attract: Hyunwon, the emperor and Yang-hee were Birds of a Feather, and didn't take it well when she preferred Dong Wang Kong, her complete opposite, over him.
  • Pandaing to the Audience: Also an Author Avatar. On the moon!
  • Perpetual Molt: The feathers fly when the Emperor shows up with black wings.
  • Physical God: Everyone's one!
  • Poor Communication Kills: It advances the plot!!!
    • Entire volumes' worth of content could have been cut entirely if a god with the power of Proper Communication had shown up.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Habaek because of a curse looks like a child. Also Yo-hee; she has the looks of a 12 year old... but actually she could be even older than Wang Mo and the emperor is her son.
  • Red String of Fate: So-ah received two of these as a child from a fortune teller.
  • Reincarnation: So-ah is thought to be Nak-bin's reincarnation at first, since she was the first girl who survived passing the barrier only Nak-bin's reincarnation could pass.
  • Sadistic Choice: The emperor loves to put everybody in one of this.
    • To Habaek: Choose Nak-bin, the love he continued to long for or So-ah, his current love.
    • To Wang Mo: The freedom of her child or the life of her husband.
    • To Dong Wang Kong: The life of Shin Nong, his best friend or being able to be with his wife and son after 7.000 years of absence.
    • Yo-hee had one of this in her past, she had to kill one of her sons and since she decided Take a Third Option instead, she unleashed a war.
  • Second Love: Habaek and Soah.
  • Selective Obliviousness: So-ah, about Mui being Habaek. Semi-justified by the fact that Habaek's identifying tattoo disappears when he's a child.
  • Senseless Sacrifice:
    • Nakbin: Killed herself by putting a curse on Habaek so he can escape from the emperor's grasp but things took a turn for the worst and Habaek is still caught up in the war between gods.
    • Habaek: Gave up his status as a god to experience human love with Soah only to be meddled with some troublesome plots created by the fortune goddess and Woo-hui, and forced to regain his godly status.
  • Shipper on Deck: Yo-hee, for So-ah and Mui.
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Woo-hui, Dong-young's sister. She falls in love with adult Mui at first sight and is very determined to make him love her. It doesn't help that she was the real selected bride and she actually believes Habaek must be hers.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers:
    • Wang Mo and Dong Wang Kong: a goddess of death and a god of life respectively. They managed to made things work until the war started, now they are on opposed sides.
    • Habaek and Nakbin: who according to Wang Mo are destined only as passing friends but fell deeply in love with each other that after Nakbin's death, both made drastic decisions in order to meet again with Habaek requiring human girls as sacrifice, and Nakbin escaping the world of the dead by deceiving the god governing it. In the end, their efforts are futile as circumstances always lead to Nakbin choosing death for Habaek's sake.
  • The Stoic: Dong Wang Kong. Justified because of the myths about him describing him with a solemn and imperturbable expression. Mui could also qualify, but he's more like Not So Stoic.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Habaek and his father, Dong Wang Kong. They look very alike, even if Wang Dong denies it and compares him to his mother. And later on, So-ah and Mui's daughter, Yuhwa; she looks like a younger version of So-ah compared to her younger sisters.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • Mui took Wang Mo's tiger's attack aimed to So-ah, even though he's now a human child and the attack was fatal.
    • Hoo-ye took the dagger meant for Nakbin which can kill even a god and almost cost him his life.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Mui, definitely
  • They Do: So-ah and Habaek. On the moon!
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Yeomha, who doesn't realize that she is a doll with Nakbin's memories.
  • Tsundere: Habaek quickly grows fond of So-ah. Doesn't stop him from messing with her head mercilessly.
    • This causes hilarious reactions on him and people who hear him talking about his feelings.
  • Triang Relations: Su Wang Mo, Habaek, and So-ah find themselves in one of these.
  • Undying Loyalty: Habaek to Nakbin: It was revealed that Habaek knew Nakbin was under the emperor's orders but loved her just the same, even giving Nakbin the right to order his death instead of just putting a curse. He also initially planned on dying with her had it not been for Hoo-ye's interference. Even after falling in love with So-ah, he chose to remain with Nakbin in the imperial palace and promised to never send her away even if she's not his soul mate bound by the red string. Finally, Habaek honored Nakbin's command not to look at some other woman the same way he used to look at her by telling So-ah that he will look only at her with his one eye (metaphorically though, since his damaged eye is completely healed), signifying that while he loves So-ah, he will never love someone the same way with Nakbin.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Mura to Habaek, Dong-young to Soah, Bi Ryeom to Mura. The emperor to Wang Mo
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: To avoid the eye of evil spirits, Mui in his early years was dressed to look like a girl.
  • Winged Humanoid: Wang Mo, Bi Ryeom and Wang Kong.
  • Yandere: Resurrected Nakbin.