I always have an urge to correct the English translation of kdramas’ titles…shouldn’t it be “Married, Not Dating” instead of “Marriage”? Ah well. Also, the teaser and trailers don’t do justice to the female character — Joo Jang-mi. The blurb portrays her as a desperate female who can’t wait to be married but juz seem to have no luck getting married. Totally untrue.

Cast:

  • Han-groo (from Scandal) as Joo Jang-mi. The young lady “who doesn’t seem to have marriage luck, but yearns to be married”. She takes the initiative to propose to her steady boyfriend, Lee Hoon-dong, whom she has been seeing (and sleeping with) for a year. Only to have Hoon-dong reject her in the most cowardly way. In a twist of Fate, she ends up helping Hoon-dong’s buddy — Gong Ki-tae — in a ploy to force his mum to back off from setting up blind dates for him.
  • Yeon Woo-jin (from Arang and the Magistrate) as Gong Ki-tae. A top-notched plastic surgeon, he stays in a lavish apartment rented under his mother’s name (he has some sentimental ties with that apartment, prob to be revealed later). Anyhow, his mum uses her status as landlady to arm-twist him into bringing a girl home. That’s when he hatches the plan to make use of Jang-mi.
  • Jin-woon (from Dream High 2) as Han Yoo-Reum. Kang Se-ah‘s friend(?) / younger brother(?) / kept puppy (?) He should be a doctor (or medical student?), but is somehow hanging out at Hoon-dong‘s cafe working as a part-timer. He is attracted to Jang-mi and shows his attraction in the I-smile-at-you-enigmatically way. (rolls eyes)
  • Han Jeong-min (from Pluto Secret Society) as Lee Hoon-dong. Jang-mi’s crappy and cowardly ex-boyfriend, and Ki-tae’s buddy. He likes Jang-mi (and basically any other girls) cos of looks and boobs, but has commitment phobia whenever his current girlfriends go serious. So he “breaks up” with Jang-mi in what he thinks is the most “civilised” way, which is basically hiding from her.
  • Yoon So-hee (from Let’s Eat) as Nam Hyun-hee. Jang-min’s colleague in the departmental store they work in and also her buddy. She appears to be more level-headed and cynical than Jang-min. She is attracted to Hoon-dong.
  • Han Sun-wha (from God’s Gift 14 Days) as Kang Se-ah. Ki-tae’s ex girlfriend, who clearly still holds a torch for him. She is also a plastic surgeon, but chooses to get her boobs job done by Ki-tae…so that she can have the excuse to flash the “products” at him every post-check ups. Confident and very sexy, she is Hoon-dong’s next target.

Synopsis

mnd1We open on a court hearing, with Jang-mi taking the place of the defendant, and her crime is stalking her ex-boyfriend. She is a little bit half-crazed at being accused as a stalker, and is about to open her mouth to say something (which most likely WILL brand her stalker-material), when Ki-tae rushes in.

After which, we have a flashback on what happened a few days before. (what’s with kdramas nowadays? why all the weird flashbacks?) Jang-mi is happily prepping up a hotel room to propose to her boyfriend. Some nifty camera works lead us to assume (wrongly) that Ki-tae is the person she is waiting for, since she calls him and he picks up a phone. Well, Ki-tae is also going to the same hotel…but to meet with a girl his pal, Hoon-dong, has arranged as a blind date for him. Naturally Ki-tae is pis*ed when he realises it’s the blind date he is meeting with and not Hoon-dong.

When Hoon-dong goes up to the hotel room to meet Jang-mi, he immediately latches on to her plans…and panicks. He locks himself in the toilet and messages Ki-tae to rescue him. Ki-tae, who has juz been unceremoniously splashed with ice water by his “date”, is none too pleased. However, on the premise of a rental increment for three years (i think Hoon-dong’s cafe is rented from Ki-tae’s mum as well), Ki-tae goes up to the hotel room to gatecrash Jang-mi’s proposal party.

mnd2Hoon-dong decides to break up with the “desperate” Jang-mi in what he terms the “most civilised” way. Basically, he does a disappearing act. Jang-mi, however, is persistent in tracking him down to get him to explain face-to-face why he is avoiding her, or why he wants to end the relationship. Like the coward he is, Hoon-dong refuses. As a “last resort”, Hoon-dong sends Jang-mi a text, thanking her, apologising and wishing her well. Jang-mi storms into Hoon-dong’s cafe in a drunken state and finally gets to see Hoon-dong –only after breaking down the toilet door and seeing him cowering in fear. She finally realises that she is the only one who is in love in their relationship.

And as if Hoon-dong is not cad enough, he sues Jang-mi for “harrassment”, and has her hauled off as a “stalker”. Thus the opening scene. As for why Ki-tae bursts into the courtroom…well, apparantly his mother mistakes Jang-mi as his girlfriend, during one heated exchange outside Hoon-dong’s cafe. Ki-tae was persuading Jang-mi to come to her senses, but since his mum is kinda far away, all she can see is Jang-mi crying…and she leaps to the conclusion that her son is bullying a rather nice looking girl. She invites Jang-mi over for dinner later, not knowing that she has nothing to do with her son. Jang-mi, however, mistakenly thinks the nice ahjumma is Hoon-dong’s mum. And when Jang-mi doesn’t turn up (for obvious reasons, since she went to Hoon-dong’s house…and got insulted by Hoon-dong’s bi*chy mama), Ki-tae’s mum threatens Ki-tae with eviction from his rented apartment if he doesn’t bring his girlfriend home by 10am the next day.

Thus, the stage is already set for a MAJOR misunderstanding.

Jang-mi eventually agrees to help Ki-tae cos he promises to help her “exact revenge” on Hoon-dong. Jang-mi brings her post-clubbing, hungover self to Ki-tae’s house, and let’s juz say, Mrs Gong is not at all pleased with the transformation of that “nice girl” she met the other day. Nonetheless, she sets Ki-tae’s aunt to trail the “couple” cos she also suspects Ki-tae is lying to her. Ki-tae knows that his mum will need some work to convince, and he pretends to be a couple with Jang-mi, using this opportunity to help Jang-mi in her “revenge” plot. They parade in front of Hoon-dong all lovey dovey, inciting Hoon-dong’s jealousy and outrage. (typical men…he doesn’t want the girl, yet wants nobody else to have her)

mnd3Ki-tae invites Jang-mi as his date to Se-ra’s charity bash, and Se-ra’s idea of a charity auction is to have all the eligible male doctors go on stage as trophies for bidding. (me want too!) Highest bid goes to Ki-tae (rescued by Se-ra), and second highest to Yoo-reum. Hoon-dong embarasses himself and tries way too hard to secure a bid, even going as far as agreeing to be dunked in the pool. Jang-mi, out of pity, bids $10 for him and rescues him out of the pool. However, she clarifies that this will be the last thing that she is doing for him. As she leaves the party dejectedly, Ki-tae runs up and offers to get her towels to dry off. Jang-mi tells him to forget about the revenge and she will stop pretending to be Ki-tae’s girlfriend as well. Ki-tae agrees and goes off for the towels. But when he returns, he sees Yoo-reum helping Jang-mi into her heels (she lost one of them while wading into the pool to save Hoon-dong).

Juz as Ki-tae is turning away to leave, both he and Jang-mi receive a call from their mum. Ki-tae’s mum has tracked down Jang-mi’s parents and is currently at Jang-mi parents’ house for a visit with the potential “in-laws” (wha, SUPER mum)

Review

mnd5Sorry for the longer than usual synopsis, cos it’s impossible to explain why Jang-mi and Ki-tae are in this nonsensical marriage without jumping through all the hoops in the plot. That aside, I find Marriage kinda similar to Fated to Love You. Both shows are centered around a contractual marriage that has to happen cos of extenuating circumstances, both have a heroine that is so much an everyday girl who impossibly (and unwillingly) snags a handsome chaebol as husband, both heroines are dumped by horrible ex-es (we need to test these girls’ eyesight) and lastly, both sets of heroes swoop in to rescue their distressed damsels. All of which are perfect ingredients for a cute, summer romance flick.

Don’t you juz LOVE shows that you already can predict the ending? Seriously, I don’t find them boring at all. (Brainless) rom-coms are the reason why I was hooked to kdramas in the first place. And Marriage will not disappoint as another of those gems. From the set up, we are already identifying with Jang-mi. Instead of a wacky, desperate (think Lie to Me, Prime Minister and I) heroine who for some strange reasons need to get married to THAT guy, we actually have a perfectly rational heroine whose only fault is her 100% commitment to a relationship. Is it wrong if she assumes the other party is also committing 100% like her, and so wishes to spend his remaining years with her? I don’t fault her for thinking that way, it’s Hoon-dong being a 200% creep and as*hole to take her for granted and use her only for his short term needs.

mnd6Similarly, Ki-tae doesn’t turn out to be the scheming, cold hearted guy who sees Jang-mi’s weakness and makes use of her to get his mum off his back. Initially, he assumes Jang-mi to be the typical gold-digging girls Hoon-dong picks up — who are only after a short fling with material benefits. When Jang-mi tearfully asks him what is it she has done wrong  by being sincerely in love with Hoon-dong, Ki-tae is clearly taken aback. From that point, he has enough of Hoon-dong’s cowardly excuses to avoid meeting Jang-mi face-to-face to apologise. Although he tries not to get involved, he ends up helping Jang-mi rebuild her confidence — albeit under the pretext of it being entirely for his “own benefit”.

Ki-tae also clearly finds Jang-mi different from the girls he have been with/ have been set up with. Juz as he is exasperated with her pig-headedness, he admires her frankness. I do not think Ki-tae’s smile when Jang-mi dozes off while listening to his mum go on about “tradition” is merely a smile of secret triumph. True, he may be happy that his tight-laced mama must be shocked with Jang-mi’s lack of manners, but he probably also finds her very amusing. Like it or not, he has unconsciously fallen for this rather “refreshing” girl. All the more evident when he is unhappy with Yoo-reum’s attention towards Jang-mi.

Which brings me to the only irksome point in this drama…Jin-woon’s total lack of expressions other than smiling enigmatically. (sorry 2AM fans…) I understand that in this show, he plays that literal handsome, dark Stranger, who is a strong contestant to the male lead. His background is, so far, only hinted at remains a bundle of contradictions — like we assume he is rich, cos he mixes with high society, but at the same time, Se-ah gives him her credit card for shopping and he is working as a part-timer. Then again, a complex background doesn’t mean Jin-woon need to have the same expression throughout the show. (hopefully he improves later)

But to be fair, since Jin-woon is fairly good eye candy, I won’t complain too much. 🙂

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