Produced by a relatively small cable/satellite TV network channel (CSTV Korea), Bride doesn’t have the big guns to hold massive media campaigns to promote itself. So I really kinda stumbled across it while waiting for my (okok, OUR) resident alien to come back onscreen on Thurs (i watch subs).  Also, I was kinda bored with all the frantic ER activities in Emergency Couple, and needed something relatively different to spice up my week. (i am also waiting for Let’s Eat — which is really good..but WHY once a week?!)

Main Cast:

  • Lee Hong-ki (from You’re Beautiful) as Choi Kang-ju. Taeyang Group’s CEO — and your typical K-drama chaebol. Meaning he is exactly kooriyuki‘s type: handsome, smart, has a cold exterior which can (and will) be melted down by the heroine to reveal his warm, snugglelishious side. And of course, he has an ISSUE (usually of the emo kinds). It is quite disconcerting to see Hong-ki without his bleached blonde hair and nail colors, but then I suppose that image won’t fit the cold cheabol prototype. He has a business/ contractual marriage in the works with Jang Yi-kyung, whom he has zero care for. He does have a soft spot for his childhood friend, Lee Roo-mi, though.
  • Yang Jin-sung (from City Hunter, and in case you are like cracking your head asking “Who?” — she is that bubbly colleague of Kim Na-na, the lead) as Na Do-rim and Jang Yi-kyung. Yep, she’s playing 2 characters here. And no, there is no birth secret. The two are totally unrelated, besides looking like identical twins. Na Do-rim is the bubbly, spunky and poor Candy. She grew up in Jeju, working her as* off to support her grandma and with the hope to open a small store under her name. One day, she loses all her money to an ahjumma who operates a trust fund kinda thingy and has no choice but to accept the odd request to pose as Yi-kyung in order to stave off her financial woes. On the other hand, Jang Yi-kyung is the snotty, uppity princess-soon-to-be-pauper, whose family owns a (failing) construction business. To stave off their financial problems, Yi-kyung is sold married off to Taeyang Group. She hates it. Near the date of the engagement, she disappears. Thus, the frantic plan to use Do-rim as a stand-in.
  • Jang Ah-young (from Protect the Boss) as Lee Roo-mi. She is the Accountant-General’s daughter (another snotty uppity princess) and grew up with the vision of Kang-ju oppa as her hubby. Thus, she is super pi*sed when Taeyang Group chooses her bestie, Yi-kyung, as bride-to-be instead of her. She will likely play the typical viper + bit*hy second lead.
  • Sung-hyuk (from All About Marriage) as Jang Yi-hyun. Yi-kyung’s doting elder brother. He has an accidental meeting with Do-rim on Jeju and later when his sis absconds, he is the one who thought up the plan to use Do-rim as stand-in. And now come the freaky part, according to future plot developments (on Bride‘s Facebook page), he will end up falling for Do-rim too. I dunno…but even though Do-rim is 200% unrelated to him, she still looks 100% like his lil’ sis…which…eewww?? In any case, he plays Do-rim’s “instructor” on Yi-kyung’s living habits and the second lead for her affections. He possesses the typical male second lead prototype — gentle, caring, compassionate, whatnot.
  • Kim Ah-young as the ghost. And yes, there is a real ghost in the story. She, for some odd reason, lays a curse on the Taeyang Group’s eldest son. All of their first marriages fail because of her. She kills their first wives but allows the guy to take a second (or third or fourth) wife with no issues. (i read something here that spells “vixen”) Probably her backstory will be revealed, I hope.

Plot Synopsis

b7The storyline is simple simply complicated. First off, we have a ghost that has been haunting Taeyang Corporation for centuries and kills off the first wives of the eldest heir, for reasons unknown (yet). Rather than exorcising the ghost, the Taeyang family decides to appease it by offering sacrifices to it. In the opening, we see Yi-kyung/Do-rim in her previous life (?) as a poor farmer’s daughter who is hastily sold (married) off to Taeyang’s oldest son as the first wife, so that the residential ghost can kill her and not bother the “real” (i.e. richer/ noble born) wife that the Taeyang family planned for their son.

In the present day, the supernatural streak continues when Do-rim saves a young woman who jumped off a cliff. The mysterious lady gives her a lucky bracelet, saying that it will “bring her romance and luck”. Do-rim initially scoffs at the superstitiousness, but when her granny falls ill and she loses her savings to the trust fund ahjumma, she begins to associate her bad luck to the bracelet’s absence. Cos the moment she puts it on, Yi-hyun offers her the strange job to pose as Yi-kyung and in return, pays off her granny’s hefty hospital bills. And juz in case you are thinking it’s mere pure coincidence and there’s no magic bracelet…there is one incident where Do-rim misplaces the bracelet and the bracelet literally makes itself “found” by sliding across the floor to Kang-ju to get him to pick it up. *creeeepppyyy*

b5Although Do-rim feels totally out of place acting the role of Yi-kyung, Kang-ju and his family doesn’t seem to notice any difference. Mostly cos Kang-ju doesn’t really care abt Yi-kyung anyway to notice she has “changed”. However, the rest of Kang-ju’s household (read: the domestic help) falls in love with the nice and helpful “Yi-kyung” who volunteers her kitchen skills and takes on menial tasks (like clearing the trash) during the Taeyang Clan’s ancestral worship ceremonies. Predictably, Kang-ju has more interactions with this “Yi-kyung”. Though most of it is bickering. (well, at least it’s better than the stony silences he shares previously with the real Yi-kyung)

As for the ghost/demon/whoever she is, probably has plans to make Do-rim the “first” wife. We are not sure whether she has a hand in making Yi-kyung abscond from her engagement, but she definitely has the intention of pushing Do-rim and Kang-ju together. (so er, shall we thank her instead?) In ep2, she lures both of them to the ancestral hall. Although nothing untoward happens to either of them, it provides Do-rim and Kang-ju additional chance to snipe at each other. And it looks as though Do-rim will have to continue her impersonation since Yi-kyung has yet to be found.

Review

b1My impression after finishing ep1 is this show is trying to cram too many genres into a 20-eps series. To name a few: we have the gothic/supernatural (and it’s not even a supernatural thriller! it’s marketed as a ROM-COM for goodness sake), mix in with the romantic comedy, a hint of birth secret, the fake/contractual marriage, and last but not least, politics (in the business sense). Seems like the show is trying really too hard. Don’t they know that too many cooks can seriously spoil a good broth? Ep1 started off slow with all these confusing themes weaving in and out. Ep 2, however picks up the pace of the rom-com — and thankfully, STICKS to the rom-com — when Do-rim takes on the role of Yi-kyung. We already have plenty of skinship (and even a full planted lip smacking kiss) in ep2.

b6The cast in the show are relatively new and/or haven’t had their acting skills verified by the masses (meaning, us). Hong-ki is not really an actor. Sure, he has debuted in a film (read Rockin’ on Heaven’s Doors) and played a side role in You’re Beautiful…but both roles are really characters which do not stretch his acting ability. His chaebol Kang-ju here is also part petulant spoilt brat, part inner little boy — almost similar to his role in Rockin’. (and dare i say, his offscreen personality)

Yang Jin-sung too, is a relatively less well-known actress. She usually takes side roles and sadly, is quite unmemorable. In Bride, her portrayal of Do-rim is much like the bubbly colleague of Kim Na-na in City Hunter. Then again, she has a MUCH meatier role to play here since she has to vacillate between playing the cool/ collected Yi-kyung to the warm/ tacky Do-rim. I am waiting for her to re-appear as Yi-kyung again, and preferably facing off her doppelganger Do-rim.

And back to my grouse. The ghost. Likely her backstory will be revealed soon (oh, add “mystery” to the themes listed above), we saw her in human (?) form in one of the old pictures in the ancestral hall. So she must have been one of the family members (maybe a disgruntled first/second wife?) in the Taeyang Clan. Also, the story needs to explain Mdm Ghost’s need to feed on the first wife, since the whole mystery seems to hinge on it. And coincidentally, all the dead first wives of the Taeyang Clan happen to be the first true love of the eldest son — regardless whether they are “bought” as a sacrifice, or really wedded willingly. My guess is the true love part is also a reason why the ghost has to go through all the motions to bring Do-rim to Kang-ju. (though that will mean she also has the powers to foresee the future)

3/5 stars

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