Genre: Romance, Melodrama, Romantic Drama
Starring: Park Sol Mi, Hong Jong Hyun, Bae Noo Ri, Choi Yeo Jin, Kim Min Jun
Written by: Kim Ji Eun (Let’s Marry, Innocent You)
Official Website & Broadcaster: jtbc
Synopsis: A young marriage is tested when the couple’s past lovers reappear in their lives.
What It’s Really About: An exploration of ambivalence, trust and loyalty, the limits of a marriage, and the ways lovers hurt one another.
Watch When: You want an angst-fest.
A Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins
Chan Joo: Even now, t’s not too late.
Jin Sae: What are you talking about, honey?
Chan Joo: You’ve been more than good to me up till now. If you stop now, I won’t hold anything against you. …Are you sure you won’t regret this?
Self-critical Seo Chan Joo and good-natured Go Jin Sae marry; three years years later, they live a seemingly happy, picturesque married life. The very week of their anniversary Chan Joo runs into her ex-lover, a man who broke her heart and left her shattered, while Jin Sae comes across Ran, an acquaintance from his hometown. A shocked and frightened Chan Joo works to fend off her ex’s advances as Jin Sae helps Ran settle down in Seoul.
Jin Sae comforts Ran after a break-in at her apartment and the two continue their ‘friendship’; Chan Joo rebuffs Eun Hyuk and enters the lioness’s den when she interviews In Kyung; Eun Hyuk hands In Kyung divorce papers; Han Soo finds out about Ran, which prompts Jin Sae to consider what their relationship is; a romcom tinged love/exasperated relationship springs up between Myung Jin and Han Soo.
One thing for sure is that we are having different dreams on the same bed.
Chan Joo becomes suspicious of Jin Sae and when she broaches him about his whereabouts they both lie about who they’ve been spending their time with; Han Soo and Myung Jin continue their flirtation; Jin Sae starts to wear thin with the double life he’s leading; Ran and Jin Sae have a falling out.
You are confident, aren’t you, Madam?
Eun Hyuk has a meeting with In Kyung’s uncle, the head of the company at which he works, who threatens Chan Joo after In Kyung faints; Ho Ki threatens Jin Sae with reporting him to the police for adultery when he keeps trying to get in contact with Ran; in another effort to get Eun Hyuk to back off, Chan Joo tells him the story of how she and Jin Sae met; Jin Sae comes to Ran’s aid when she gets in trouble, which prompts Ho Ki to take action. *I recommend reading Baduy’s explanation of the significance of In Kyung’s diabetes here.
Jin Sae: But Ran-ah, you are not one of those in need of me. That is never you.
Ran: Then what am I to you? If you are not sorry for me, then what is it? You found a place for me to live. You ran to me when I needed you. If it’s not because you felt sorry, what else was it?
Jin Sae: Ran-ah, that is…It’s hard to explain in words. I’m pathetic and stupid. I know it makes no sense at all. But this is just how I am.
Ran: Is it? Do you want me to tell you what it is? If you cross this line, it becomes hell. Can you cross it? It’s true that I like you, Ajusshi. Can you come and cross the line?
Jin Sae: No. I can’t.
Ran: I knew you wouldn’t. Because you’re a coward.
Chan Joo investigates further into whether or not Jin Sae is cheating on her; Myung Jin and Han Soo want to keep their dalliance a secret, while Mying Jin tries to wheedle information on Jin Sae out of him; Chan Joo and Jin Sae and In Kyung and Eun Hyuk have a tense dinner together; In Kyung give Chan Joo an ultimatum; Ran offers Jin Sae a proposition.
Ajusshi, how about we be more than friends, but less than lovers?
Chan Joo visits her father on his farm to get away from Jin Sae and he follows her there in an attempt at reconciliation; upset with Ho Ki, Ran stops dancing with him, then falls into despondency over Jin Sae’s rejection and disappears; In Kyung’s uncle makes Eun Hyuk head of a department for laundering dirty political money, ensnaring him further within the grips of the family; In Kyung continues to antagonize Chan Joo as Eun Hyuk rebuffs all her efforts at romance; Chan Joo and Ran finally meet.
One day, a robber barged in. He took money, clothes, and the car. When there was nothing else to take, he moved into the master bedroom. My house that was taken over by the robber. Is it really my house?
After Eun Hyuk rebuffs her romantic advances, In Kyung retaliates by threatening to interfere with Chan Joo and Jin Sae’s marriage; Ran falls sick and takes to bed, then goes to visit her parents; Chan Joo remains indifferent to Jin Sae’s efforts at rapprochement until he finds out about Eun Hyuk and the tables are turned.
Shattered by the realization of the extent of Jin Sae’s relationship with Ran, Chan Joo almost makes a mistake that haunts her afterwards; Jin Sae accompanies a sick and unconscious Ran back to Seoul from their hometown; In Kyung prepares to move to Germany while noting how indifferent Eun Hyuk is; Eun Hyuk decides to challenge In Kyung and Moon Ho Group; Jin Sae and Eun Hyuk meet.
Why do we keep having problems? I don’t know why. We were laughing and playing every day. Making jokes. I can’t even remember when that was. On this road on your birthday, do you remember what you said to me? I have actually memorized all that. 43, 53, 63, up to 83…I want to grow old with you. …No matter how hard it is, let’s get through it together.
Jin Sae tells Eun Hyuk to stay away from Chan Joo; Eun Hyuk’s starts to reap the consequences of going against the corrupt Moon Ho Group, and Chan Joo’s safety is implicated; Chan Joo and Jin Sae reach a breaking point; In Kyung fires Myung Jin; Ran tries to reconcile with Jin Sae; a scandal breaks out about Chan Joo and Eun Hyuk; Chan Joo’s father comes for a visit
and breaks my heart.
What if I say I love you?
After their divorce Jin Sae falls into a depression from which Ran and Han Soo try to retrieve him while Eun Hyuk works to comfort and win over a similarly depressed Chan Joo; finding a job proves difficult for Chan Joo, who has to go up against In Kyung and Moon Ho Group; Eun Hyuk gathers evidence against Moon Ho Group and gets offered a deal; In Kyung explains how she fell for Eun Hyuk.
Ran asks Chan Joo to stay away from Jin Se; Jin Sae finally decides to begin dating Ran; Eun Hyuk proposes going to New York; Chan Joo’s family is struck with tragedy and Jin Sae comes to her aid; Eun Hyuk gets into some really deep shit with Moon Ho Group.
Chan Joo: For us to be free from each other, I told him to have a clean start. A thought came to me. If I see that girl next to Jin Sae, I might be relieved. Since I got married, until now, I’ve felt indebted toward Jin Sae. We were married for only three years, but I gave him a scar that will last a lifetime. And it’s the same now too. I…I saw them together. And they looked happy. I can do nothing for him.
Chan Joo prepares to move to New York with Eun Hyuk and meets one last time with Jin Sae; fed up with Jin Sae’s indecisiveness, cautiousness, and continued consideration of Chan Joo, Ran moves out of the storage building and stops speaking with him; In Kyung schemes to keep Eun Hyuk by her side; Jin Sae goes after Ran; Myung Jin and Chan Joo are too cute.
Eun Hyuk is dealt a major blow by Moon Ho Group; Jin Sae and Ran begin their life as a couple; Chan Joo dumps Eun Hyuk
‘s sorry ass; a curious Ran learns more about Jin Sae and Chan Joo’s marriage; Ran learns Chan Joo hasn’t left for New York.
Chan Joo: Does he feel the same way?
Ran: No. He doesn’t. Actually, he hasn’t opened up to me yet. He thinks he might break my heart. He’s hesitant. At first I thought if I tried he would come around to me, but at some point I realized he was still in the same place. It’s all because of you. It’s because he still can’t forget you. Although you are divorced and have left for New York, he still can’t forget you. Now I realize what Ajusshi and I have is up to you. I’m asking you. Please. Leave here. So he can completely forget about you. Help him to do that.
Chan Joo and Eun Hyuk’s scandal resurfaces, alerting Jin Sae to the fact she hasn’t left the country; Chan Joo tries her best to make Jin Sae believe there is and has never been anything between them; Ran tries her best to make Jin Sae forget Chan Joo, but he’s still hesitant; Eun Hyuk decides to take the fall for Moon Ho Group; In Kyung makes a last effort to save Eun Hyuk from prison.
Jin Sae confesses to Chan Joo and they wonder if they could ever really get back together; In Kyung hands divorce papers to a confused Eun Hyuk; In Kyung gets some bad news from her doctor; Jin Sae breaks things off with a heartbroken Ran; Chan Joo gets ready to leave with Eun Hyuk; Myung Jin and Han Soo get a surprise.
Jin Sae-shi…are you sure you can be happy with me again? What if we’ve grown too far apart? Can we possibly go back?
Chan Joo and In Kyung meet one final time; Ran moves out and wishes Chan Joo and Jin Sae the best; Myung Jin confirms her pregnancy; Myung Jin and Ja Young plan a trip to the beach–and plot to bring Chan Joo and Jin Sae back together; Chan Joo chooses Jin Sae! (✿◠‿◠)
When I got the airline tickets from you I did a lot of thinking about the future I would spend with you. But I couldn’t picture anything. All I could see was him and me riding our bikes together to work, drinking beer in the small balcony, having my husband in a headlock when he was being naughty, arguing over trivial stuff. It was all about how I was with him, the past three years we lived as a couple after we got married.
Ajusshi, thank you. That my love wasn’t enough, you would understand it, wouldn’t you? I’m just about to start a new chapter of my life. I can probably love again, can’t I? The expectation that my future love will make me happy excites me.
A melodrama that leaves you feeling optimistic about the world and romantic love. Nope, you didn’t read that wrong.
The strongest performance is definitely from Bae Noo Ri, who brings a complexity to Ran that could have easily been lost in a less capable actress. The rest of the cast could have been better, especially Kim Min Joon, who often seems like he’s trying not to pass gas, but each actor has a quality they bring to their characters that I appreciate despite their acting: Park Sol Mi lends a fragility to Chan Joo and Hong Jong Hyun is too cute for words. Malta feels it falls apart in the last quarter, but I think it’s only the last two episodes that are the weakest; that’s when some contrived plot maneuvers pop up. But this remains a tightly plotted, smart, gracefully and cleanly directed, emotionally generous melodrama with great dialogue, the perfect kind to marathon when you want something absorbing that isn’t full of overly irrational antics.
* A note: The community for this drama is very small, almost nonexistent. I will be posting some of my thoughts on each episode later, but there are no full recaps, and the tumblr tag is mostly just a few picspams and unfocused ramblings (most of them by me, heh). Fortunately some folks over at Soompi have a thread for the show, and the excellent Baduy provided insightful commentary, detailed recaps, and selected translations. I wish I’d known about it the first time I watched the show. You should definitely check it out. Go, now, go! (You can also check out my extended thoughts on it here.)
And one last thing. I love the instrumental music for this show! If anyone knows where I can buy it, please do let me know!