Drama Recaps
Love & Marriage: Episode 1
by | August 26, 2008 | 40 Comments

In a nutshell: flawed but cute.

In a somewhat larger nutshell: There are definite weaknesses and some contrivances, but it’s been a long time since a first episode made me actually wish I could watch the second right away, rather than giving me reservations or a “wait and see” feeling.

Love & Marriage is like a cross between Dal Ja’s Spring and My Sweet Seoul, albeit probably not as good as either drama. But it retains the good-natured spirit of both, and is powered by a bright effervescence.

SONG OF THE DAY

F.T. Island – “사랑이라 부르는 이름” (A name called love) from their new album. [ Download ]

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BACKGROUND & CHARACTERS

Kim Min-hee (I Like it Hot, Goodbye Solo) stars as LEE KANG-HYUN, a successful, bubbly, unabashedly self-congratulatory “couples manager” at a large, exclusive matchmaking company. As one of the more junior employees, she’s making a name for herself as the employee with the most successful matches, which earns her a promotion early on. Kang-hyun is so confident and ingratiating to her elders that her co-workers roll their eyes in a mix of exasperation and jealousy. Even her friends sometimes find her a bit much, which provides an interesting dynamic.

Mr. Sexy Hot Bedroom Eyes, Kim Ji-hoon (Golden Age of Daughters in Law, Flowers For My Life), is PARK HYUN-SOO, a very smart, successful lawyer at a firm catering to rich and celebrity clientele. Hyun-soo has enough confidence to make him appealing but not so much (unlike Kang-hyun) that he’s irritating. Despite his high-powered position, he doesn’t love the corporate lifestyle and is resigning his job soon to do some meaningful soul-searching. (With me. I call dibs.)

These are Kang-hyun’s best friends. Hwang Bora (My Girl) is KIM SOON-YOUNG (left) and Ok Ji-young (The Vineyard Man) plays YOON HEE-SOONG. So far their dynamic is still a little hazy, but basically Soon-young is the sillier of the two.

Hee-soong, interestingly, is critical of Kang-hyun and tells it like it is, but not in a loud, brash sort of way. She’s quietly condemning. And yet I think it comes from a place of reason and affection, so I don’t write her off as bitter — just realistic. Therefore, although she seems in Episode 1 to not actually like Kang-hyun all that much, I think she’s probably the more loyal of the two. I like her.

Park Ki-woong (When Night Comes) plays IN KYUNG-HWAN, Kang-hyun’s boyfriend of five years. He’s a law student who hates going to law school, and has only gotten this far at Kang-hyun’s nagging. She essentially put him through school, prodding him to continue when he wanted to quit. However, because her “encouragement” is often more like forceful pushing, their dynamic has suffered, with him always feeling harassed and her being dissatisfied. Because of her strong personality and the fact that she’s older, she often treats him like a baby.

Yoon Se-ah (Smile Again) completes the love triangle between Kang-hyun and Hyun-soo, but doesn’t make an appearance in Episode 1.

 

EPISODE 1 RECAP

We start off with Kang-hyun in her element: a themed matchup party with herself playing maestro. (Look, it’s Ryohei!) Not only does she pair together likely matches, she persuades (coerces) unlikely matches together and convinces them to see an attraction that may not be there at first glance. Thus she’s her firm’s most successful couples manager and constantly fielding scouting offers from other companies. She’s good — and she knows it. It’s that latter trait that makes her the source of irritation for others. Life is good for Kang-hyun.

However, Kang-hyun isn’t as golden as she believes; she’s kind of like Austen’s Emma, blithely careening through life believing herself to be saving everyone else from romantic despair when she’s most at risk.

To wit: She had issued her boyfriend Kyung-hwan a faux-ultimatum — stay in law school or we’re over. He takes her at her word, because he’s been miserable in school and has wanted to quit for ages. Kang-hyung visits him all chirpy and happy a month later, believing things are normal, but he’s thought they’d been broken up for the past month.

After being incredibly annoying for a while, talking to Kyung-hwan in a baby voice to try to placate him, she realizes he’s for real this time. They get into an argument when he accuses her of caring too much about “qualifications” (criteria for dating) — as in, she only wants him to continue law school so she can be pleased to be dating a lawyer. She defends herself, saying, “Those snobby girls chase qualifications, but I made those qualifications for you.” He retorts: “So you’ve been dating the qualifications you’ve built up!”

She apologizes and promises to do better, but when he asks, “Will you still date me if I quit law school, then?” she launches into more nagging about why he should stay. That’s the last straw, and Kyung-hwan is done. She asks for the real reason he’s breaking up with her, and he has a hard time summoning the nerve to be frank. (At this point I feel sorry for him, because she’s so dominant that I can see how being with her for five years has emasculated him.) Kyung-hwan tells her, with more honesty than malice:

Kyung-hwan: “It was horrific. The five years we dated were a horror. I realized it in the month we’ve been apart, and my life was peaceful.”

Even for a managing shrew, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Now for Park Hyun-soo, sharp attorney and dreamboat extraordinaire. To show how clever Hyun-soo is, he gains the upper hand in what initially seems like a losing divorce case representing the spoiled wife of a cheating hubby. The husband had charged wifey with going to bars all the time and drinking, making her unfit for custody of their young daughter.

But Hyun-soo has a trump card — the husband has been bringing his mistress home, and the child has recognized the woman. Turns out she’s a famous celebrity. Using that as leverage (the celebrity won’t want negative publicity), Hyun-soo settles the case in his client’s favor.

Before Hyun-soo quits, he has one last project to get started for his junior attorney. A woman found out her husband was a con artist, but needs to find him to divorce him after he’d run away. The law firm isn’t an investigation agency, but this is a special client and they’re taking extra care. One clue they have is that he recently signed up for a matchmaking service (he used a different name, but the same credit card).

Thus it is that Hyun-soo contacts Kang-hyun to find out information about her client. However, the first few times the junior attorney calls her, she turns him down, citing client confidentiality. When he tries calling back, she’s just gotten dumped and yells at him in a rage to stop calling her.

This scene had me giggling although it is one of those utterly contrived coincidences. Yet I didn’t mind, because hey, it was funny.

Kang-hyun is given the file of a new client, a top lawyer prospect. At the same time, Hyun-soo arrives at her office to talk with her in person about his case. Naturally she mistakes the two. In a gloomy mood to begin with, she greets Hyun-soo with a detached air, thinking he’s her hotshot client. Not giving Hyun-soo a chance to introduce himself, she looks him up and down (rating him a 100 by her internal calculations) and admits grudgingly, “You are perfect.” (Hyun-soo is, to say the least, a little startled at that straightforward statement.)

She treats Hyun-soo brusquely, proceeding with the initial consultation. It isn’t till she takes him to task for being overly picky in his qualifications for his ideal woman that he has a chance to correct her about his identity.

When she realizes who he is, she rejects his request to cooperate. After all, the photos of the guy he wants and her client are totally different. Note: the client in question is Ryohei, the guy in the opening scene, also of Soulmate. (Hyun-soo suggests that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the guy got plastic surgery, to which she retorts, “Have you been watching too many movies? Are we shooting Face/Off?”)

Hyun-soo accepts that Kang-hyun isn’t going to help, but he leaves her with a warning: that she may be held liable as the couple manager. She brushes that aside.

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As One’s “Zza Zza La!” acts as one of Kang-hyun’s themes throughout Ep. 1. [ Download ]

Kang-hyun goes on with her life, picking herself up from her broken relationship, musing, “Five years lost, my lost youth. No, it’s okay, I still have fifty years to live. Love betrays people, but work doesn’t. Work rewards you for your efforts. Work is fair and square. My life is still okay — I’m going to live my life for real starting today.”

Unfortunately, work runs into problems, too. Kang-hyun is visited by the angry mother of the woman now engaged to the (already married) criminal. The woman blames her for subjecting her daughter to humiliation and not being thorough in her background checks. Shocked, Kang-hyun defends herself, saying they couldn’t have known — the man was perfect in his fake identity and forged documents.

A marriage clinic is only as good as its reputation for success and honesty, so Kang-hyun is fired. Hyun-soo’s junior attorney (In Hyung of Hong Gil Dong — took me forever to place his face without his sageuk costuming) recalls how belligerent she was to them, and laughs in satisfaction.

And here is when I started warming up to Kang-hyun, because until now she was annoying and loud. But she does her pathetic best to make a grand exit, giving a grandiose speech about her work, her intentions, her future — and nobody cares. Her speech is rather embarrassing, as she tries with bravado to make this into A Big Moment, but it’s just not working.

In contrast, Hyun-soo makes his own exit from his firm with exactly the effect Kang-hyun is failing to evoke. And he’s not even trying to be impressive. He’s taking time off to ponder Life (comma, the Meaning Of) and plans on taking a trip to South America.

Following Kang-hyun’s dismal exit, she considers the summer rain and decides that if ever there were a time to go through a symbolic and literal baptism, this is it. But as she’s having her cinematic Shawshank moment, she’s interrupted by her ex-boss, who points out that it’s not raining. It’s merely the window-washers spraying water from a hose. *snort*

Therefore, this round’s winner = Hyun-soo.

Kang-hyun and Hyun-soo run into each other once again (another plot coincidence, but one I’ll live with) while they’re both on their way to business meetings — he with a happy client, she with an enraged one.
Because Hyun-soo’s so dreamy and perfect, he’s not exultant to see her down in the dumps, but politely concerned to know if everything worked itself out. But Kang-hyun has too much pride to give him an inch, and insists everything worked out fine. (He doesn’t believe her, but she insists.)

As soon as she arrives at the table, however, the mother once again starts hitting Kang-hyun in a rage. Hyun-soo finishes his business meeting swiftly and encounters Kang-hyun as she makes her huffy exit.

Humiliated, Kang-hyun shouts that she’ll countersue the lady for assault, which Hyun-soo confirms she could do. But he advises her not to live her life trying to pick at every legality, and suggests she try again to resolve things with the mean lady. Kang-hyun’s too bruised (emotionally, and probably also physically) to consider going back to face that hateful woman, but Hyun-soo asks that crucial question: “Have you done your utmost?… This isn’t the time to think of your pride. This is the time for you to seek resolution with your whole self.”

Kim Ji-hoon manages to convey confidence without coming off arrogant, which I think is a key ingredient for his character. Somehow he doesn’t sound condescending, and also doesn’t come off too interested in her, either. (It’s too early for that.)

Kang-hyun accepts his advice (finally!), and goes back to the woman. This time, instead of going on the defensive, she kneels at her feet and begs for forgiveness, accepting full responsibility for her mistake.

 

Unfortunately, there’s one last complication. Her former boss hears that an attorney had contacted her and warned her about the con man in advance. Despite Kang-hyun’s reasons for ignoring Hyun-soo’s warnings (such as the two men in question looking totally different), this is an added blow for the company, which estimates a loss of about 100 hundred million won ($100,000) from her negligent actions. Therefore she’s liable for 40 million won ($40,000), to be paid in a week.

And finally, Hyun-soo gets ready to leave his life in Korea, vacating his posh office and apartment, throwing away wedding photos as though he’s throwing away his former life.

But at the last moment, he’s approached by some men at the airport, who tell him that he has unfinished business left in Korea.

 
COMMENTS

I actually watched the previews for Episode 2, and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know what a big deal that is for me (hate spoilers with a passion). But I couldn’t resist, and I think the big gimmick that’s going to make (or break) Love & Marriage is the upcoming twist that Kang-hyun takes a job at another matchmaking company, but one that caters to divorced men and women. And in order to be an effective matchmaker, she must pretend to be divorced! And in order to be divorced, obviously she must have a (fake, of course) ex-husband! Let the sparks begin.

The first half of the episode, Kang-hyun was getting on my nerves, to the extent that I wasn’t sure I would like her enough to get on her side. After my affection for My Sweet Seoul disintegrated because of its irritating heroine, I wasn’t ready to do that to myself for another series.

How-ev-er! Kang-hyun, unlike Eun-soo in MSS, shows signs of change. She may be too big for her britches initially, but she is punished swiftly for her hubris, and she is punished hard. In fact, she gets brought down lower than even I thought she deserved when I was at my most annoyed, so the series has effectively gotten rid of my big block with her. Now that she’s been reduced to a mess of pathetic comic proportions, I find Kim Min-hee’s portrayal both endearing and hilarious. I love an actress who can commit to making herself look ridiculous.

Also. I have never seen Kim Ji-hoon looking so yummy. And he has looked quite yummy plenty of times before.

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40 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. jin

    javabeans,
    do you know where I can watch this series?

     (0)


  2. Jessica

    Ooo… the “gimmick”-type plots always intrigue me. Like, I know people got tired of the contract marriage thing but I’ve always loved watching it :)

    Now it’s going to be a contract divorce? Keke :) How interesting!

    ***

    @ jin

    I usually download my k-dramas here:
    http://co2r.wordpress.com/

    The files are small, but the quality is still good (.rmvb files).

    However they are Chinese-subbed. But the videos can often be paired with the English subs if you use the sub delay feature in The KM Player.

     (0)


  3. Luv

    Thank you Sarah.
    Your blog is the best…hehe…

     (0)


  4. mily2

    sarahbeans.. thanks so much for the recaps.. luv luv luv the series thus far!! *muah*

     (0)


  5. Anna

    This sounds exactly like the type of light weight fluff I’ve been looking for.

     (0)


  6. abe

    I thought the show had potential, but could not get over Kim Min-hee’s hair. Is the frizzy perm in fashion at the moment in Korea??

     (0)


  7. Sue

    kim minhee’s hair is naturally frizzy, not the typical asian sleek.

     (0)


  8. choram

    Hell yes! I’m so in the mood for a light fluffy romantic comedy!

     (0)


  9. lemon

    Thanks for the recap! I’m actually planning on checking this out now! :D I’m also in the mood for something lighthearted and fun ^_^

     (0)


  10. 10 diane

    Just what i been looking for. …..on another note someone do something about her hair PLEASE!!!!

     (0)


  11. 11 varms

    This series totally sounds like something I would watch!!! Kang Hyun pushing her boyfriend to be a lawyer was kinda like Uhm Jung Hwa’s character in Get Karl! (I kinda liked that series…Tickled my funny bone!) Omg, the lead actor in this drama is sooo good-looking! I haven’t seen a lead actor this appealing since Hyun Bin in My Lovely Sam-soon… I’ve seen you mention Kim Ji Hoon before in other recaps but I never really noticed him till now… Kim Min Hee was acted in a role that was something like this in Some Like it Hot aka Hellcats… I loved her character there!

     (0)


  12. 12 teokong

    Thanks for the summary. Wish I could watch it, where??

     (0)


  13. 13 raahmose

    “Mr. Sexy Hot Bedroom Eyes, Kim Ji-hoon…”
    LOL
    OMO
    LOL
    LOVE IT!

     (0)


  14. 14 raahmose

    “Despite his high-powered position, he doesn’t love the corporate lifestyle and is resigning his job soon to do some meaningful soul-searching. (With me. I call dibs.)”
    I come for the summaries, I stay for the comments. You are too funny.

     (0)


  15. 15 angie

    i have a feeling that im going to like this, if not for the plot then i can stay just for “Mr. Sexy Hot Bedroom Eyes”, lol !
    thank you for recapping this, you summaries is always fun and wit
    whats with kim min hee’s hair, she look like my aunt from the 80s

     (0)


  16. 16 asianromance

    the gimmick sounds too contrived but this overall sounds like a fun romantic comedy to watch. wish they would do something with kim min hee’s hair. it makes her look like kyung-hwan’s sister rather than his gf [or ex-gf now].

     (0)


  17. 17 orangehaji

    I’ll watch this!

     (0)


  18. 18 trese

    Kim Ji-hoon is the older Choi Minho of SHINee. Hehehhee.

     (0)


  19. 19 MrBloo

    Javabeans, your entertaining summary convinced me that I should check out this drama .I am not really a fan of Min Hee but I am going to give the drama a go as the plot is fun and lighthearted.

     (0)


  20. 20 Iranian Espresso

    Thanks.

     (0)


  21. 21 mimi

    THAnk You sooo muchhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

     (0)


  22. 22 bjharm

    Totally off track but isnt Kim Jae Seung in hyung in Hong Gil Dong suppose to be making the movie Size 55 with Jang Nara or did another of her movie efforts bite the dust on her?
    http://www.soompi.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=234320
    if you have any info on this please to let me know.

     (0)


  23. 23 Cee

    I saw this last night and can I just say that I could not stop laughing.

    KangHyun has a really strong character, one that loves herself enough to not harm herself, push herself down, emotionally and physically.

    It made me realize and think a lot as well.

     (0)


  24. 24 kimlam940

    This is posted on youtube if anyone wants to watch. I am really loving it so far.

     (0)


  25. 25 mangoparo

    omg finally a funny one….i’ve been looking for something just fun and endearing yes!…thnx so much for the caps

     (0)


  26. 26 KTX

    I liked ep. 1 too! I should have been annoyed with the main character (I always found Emma to be too annoying), but somehow I wasn’t! Thanks for naming that guy from Hong Gil Dong, his face looked so familiar, the whole time I couldn’t think of where I had seen him before. He looks a lot different without his mustache.

     (0)


  27. 27 Sveta

    For me the first episode was cute enough to want to watch this till the end…Really glad to see KJH again after Flowers, but I hoped to see more of Ryohei (the freud). His appearance and the whole feeling of this first episode reminded me of Soulmate…it’s been a long time since I enjoyed a recent kdrama, so I hope this can bring some of those feelings back :)

     (0)


  28. 28 Alvina

    I think I might have to brave the horribly irritating Kim Min-hee (Lee Kang-Hyun) just to watch Kim Ji-hoon and Park Ki-Woong at work lol.

    aigoo! (grins)

    Park Ki-Woong performance in MTF-2 still makes me giggle. and Kim Ji-Hoon is just so hot XD

     (0)


  29. 29 diane

    I was really looking forward to this drama. But after watching episode 1 i really can’t find the motivation to go on..Parts that i knew i was suppose to laugh, i really could not do it. Also, the whole idea of the main guy being so perfect(thus far) is not too appealing. Usually the hot/sexy/rich guy has some negative to him such as a bad temper..but he is just tooo nice and perfect= boring!

     (0)


  30. 30 Priscila

    I loooove your summary/recaps, dramabeans! I’ve been lurking since forever, but I’ve never actually posted a comment – sorry about that. I found you when I stumbled upon Coffee Prince, which whas my first kdrama and the one that got me hooked, and I’ve loved and enjoyed your comments ever since. Thanks for writing these up!

    On another note, do you (or does anyone, for that matter) know the name of the song that plays at the end of the scene where Kyung-Hwan breack up with Kang-hyun?

    Keep up the good work!

    :)

     (0)


  31. 31 Jane

    Park ki-woong is so nerdy and soooo cute in this. I’m gonna watch this just because he’s in it.

     (0)


  32. 32 Crazi@D

    Anyone know what is the phone model used by Kang Hyun?

     (0)


  33. 33 F1foodie

    Thanks for filling the gap! I’m just starting to watch this series and was also baffled by the identity of the junior attorney. I knew I saw him somewhere before.

     (0)


  34. 34 Fir

    Hi Javabeans. I stumbled onto your site when i was searching for Love Marriage’s OST. OMG. You tickle my funnybones with your comments. :) Coincidentally, I was just thinking whether I should set up my own blog to write about K-dramas… Started last year with “Goong” and now I can’t imagine my life without these K-dramas…I have a lot of friends who love, no, obesess over K-dramas. Thank you!

     (0)


  35. 35 luvlovemarriage

    lovee it thanks of the information xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

     (0)


  36. 36 J chitthu

    I love this drama. i like both actors and actress.Kim Ji Hoon is soooo handsome.This drama is very nice.

     (0)


  37. 37 Janie

    Been wanting to watch this drama since last year but didn’t have the chance to do it until recently. Finally get to finish the last episode last night… thorougly enjoy the whole show with it’s lightness, every episode gives me this fuzzy wuzzy feeling and I love it! I remember javabeans did a recap so am here to check it out epi by epi to see what I have missed out. Thank you javabeans and to Recap epi 1… here I come :P

     (0)


  38. 38 Janie

    Oh ya, the drama does have a Dal Ja’s Spring feel to it, but Dalja darling is more fiesty… I giggled more at DJ than Love Marriage. Talking about DJ, hehe… Representative Eom’s ex-wife is in LM too.

    Anyway, really enjoy KMH cutesiness there, got to know her through Goodbye Solo and oh that eye-candy boy KJH sure looks like young JDG.

    Epi 1 recap is very informative and entertaining… off to recap #2 now, thanks!

     (0)


  39. 39 cherry

    I’m late watching this drama but liking it so far! Where was I when Kim Ji Hoon’s dramas were showing? I liked him in Stars Falling that I’m now searching for his previous dramas & oh my gosh JB you’re right sexy bedroom eyes this guy has! Yummy to look at! I just love him, his acting & all! His pretty lips, his face a frnd of mine thinks he’s a young Jang dong gun but i think he’s far more attractive & I’m also a JDG fan but looking at KJH wow, i’m falling for him for sure!

     (0)


  40. 40 sang hee

    I just started watching this drama coz of searching for more Kim Ji Hoon projects after seeing him in Stars or Wish Upon a Star…he’s gorgeous what can I say? Best description, sexy bedroom eyes….really very very yummy to look at! luv him!

     (0)


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