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[Dramaland Catnip] Marriage before dating


The King 2 Hearts

There’s something about the premise of near-strangers making the ultimate commitment to each other that draws me in every time. Whether it’s an arrangement they’ve been pushed into by their families, or a mutually beneficial ruse that they plan to dissolve once it’s no longer useful, marriage before dating always leads to hilarious hijinks and delicious emotional conflicts. I love contract dating as much as the next drama addict, but wedding bells give the relationship an added weight, and higher stakes. Marriage not only forces our lead couple to officially move in together (and pretend to share a bedroom!); it makes them instant partners in many aspects of life, and joins their two families. This means that when the fallout comes—and it always does, by dramaland law—it’s much more painful, and the OTP has to work that much harder to repair the damage.

These practical nuptials tend to come in three types: arranged marriage, shotgun marriage, and contract marriage. The first is often due to family pressure, as in Sweet 18 and My Little Bride, both of which hinged on an ailing patriarch insisting on an old promise between friends to marry their grandchildren to each other one day. Fair warning: Both of these have a steep age difference between husband and wife, and the heroines both start out in high school. I personally found them sweet and tastefully handled, but I know everyone’s mileage varies on this issue.


My Little Bride

Sweet 18 is the story of a troublemaking high school senior betrothed to a stern, serious prosecutor from an extremely traditional family. They first meet when he catches her sneaking into a club he raids, so they start out hating each other—she thinks he’s a stick in the mud and he finds her unutterably childish. Rather than being intimidated by her older, much smarter husband, this heroine is feisty and smart-talking, and is refreshingly honest about her growing feelings for him. It’s delicious to watch the straitlaced hero be completely bowled over—and eventually charmed—by this whirlwind that’s suddenly come into his life. I really liked how he always respected her once they were married, and did his best to treat her as his equal in the relationship, never talking down to her because of her youth.

My Little Bride is a movie, but Moon Geun-young and Kim Rae-won were so adorable in it that I couldn’t leave it off my list. Husband and wife sleep in separate bedrooms and bicker like best friends. There’s also the added wrinkle that he’s a student teacher at her school, which means their marriage is a secret from everyone except their families, leading to various comical misunderstandings. Their gradual realization of their feelings for each other is very sweet, as is the chemistry between the leads, who are breathtakingly young and charming in this film.


Goong

Then we have marriage as a royal duty. Goong, with its gorgeous sets and whimsical music (and those teddy bears!) exists in a beautiful fantasy that somehow also feels grounded in the real world, despite being set in a fictional modern Korea which has somehow revived its monarchy. Our heroine has to deal with the absurdities of an arranged marriage to the crown prince—whom she hates, incidentally—while still dealing with the mundane struggles of a high school student. The prince is frustratingly aloof (and hung up on his mopey ex-girlfriend) for much of the drama, but the heroine is so down-to-earth, honest, and relatable that I found myself completely invested, even when things started to drag near the end.

The King 2 Hearts has a very different tone, with possible war, international intrigue, and the stakes of Korean reunification teetering on the outcome of this one marriage. The leads’ relationship is fraught from the beginning with not only their antipathy toward each other, but the political machinations of self-interested factions, and the weight of public opinion. (Imagine having all of South Korea as your disapproving mother-in-law.) It’s an intense and emotional ride; for instance, the hero badly hurts the heroine near the beginning of their relationship, which makes his groveling to her later on so satisfying—he literally has to risk his life in order to ask her forgiveness. I loved this expression of his commitment to her, and that the heroine has enough self-respect to hold him accountable, which sadly we don’t often get in dramaland. Jae-ha and Hang-ah’s journey from uneasy allies to a rock-solid royal power couple was moving and unforgettable.


Wonderful Life

Shotgun weddings are rarer in dramaland, but I can’t resist them. Like those above, it’s a trope that would be horrifying in real life, but fascinates in fiction: being legally bound into intimate proximity with a stranger, who is now linked to you forever by shared parenthood. (In dramas, of course, we have the assurance that these are both good people and they’re Destined For Each Other.)

Wonderful Life starts with an immature hero and an innocent heroine who fall into a drunken one-night stand when they find out that his first love and her boyfriend are dating. He refuses to face the consequences the next morning, she decides to “study abroad” when she finds out she’s pregnant, and it’s not until much later that the families force them to marry. It’s full of clichés, but I loved every moment. The chemistry between the leads crackles whether they’re bickering or lovestruck, and a very young Jung Da-bin is achingly precious as their daughter. The latter part of the drama takes a melodramatic turn, but the leads remain sympathetic throughout, and it’s wonderful to see the three of them slowly learn to become a family. Kim Jae-won is great as a rich playboy who slowly learns to be a responsible and loving family man, and Eugene glows as a fiercely protective young mother.


Fated To Love You

Fated To Love You is a remake of the cheesy but cracktastic Taiwanese drama, and the first half of the Korean version was weird and wonderful, with electric chemistry between the OTP. The latter episodes faltered due to some nonsensical plot turns, but I watched to the end for the leads’ phenomenal performances. Weekender Ojakkyo Brothers counts among its many plotlines a middle son who ends up married after a one-night stand with a colleague results in pregnancy. The hijinks that ensue from them learning to live with each other as they slowly fall in love are only one reason to watch this show, which is truly a gem among family dramas.

Delightful Girl Chun-hyang is sort of a shotgun marriage—the leads were forced to marry after their families found them in a compromising situation, despite an absence of actual hanky-panky. Their early dynamic as a married high school couple can be described as I don’t love you but you belong to me, which led to all kinds of jealousy and confusion that was delicious to watch. It’s one of the things that gets me most about this trope—in the early part of the relationship, the married couple has the sense that although they aren’t lovers, there’s a bond between them. The discomfort they feel when third parties try to infringe on that unspoken thing is the first sign that they secretly want the relationship to be real. This is especially true when the couple is very young, as in Delightful Girl and Goong, because their confusion about these new emotions is believable and amusing.


Full House

The contract marriage is arguably the most common of these three in dramaland. This is less of a guilty pleasure for me, because both parties usually enter into the arrangement with their eyes open and expecting to gain something, and there’s no element of coercion (even if the reasoning for the contract is often flimsier than spun sugar).

The granddaddy of all contract marriage dramas is of course Full House, which is dated and probably terrible, but it was one of my first K-dramas, and I’m not brave enough to rewatch it and find out for sure. Song Hye-gyo’s beauty, Rain’s terrible fashion, and that impossible premise are all legendary at this point, but one scene really touched my heart, and it’s the one that’s clearest in my memory now. Strangely, it has nothing to do with the romance, but rather Ji-eun’s anguish when her “in-laws” find out that the marriage was a ruse; her tears come as she remembers how warmly they called her name and welcomed her into the family. I was bawling by the end of that scene.

Contract-marriage dramas run the gamut for reasons the leads decide to tie the knot, or pretend to do so. Their motivations can be tragic: The dying mother in Marriage Contract makes a deal to provide for her daughter’s future, and ends up creating a much-needed family instead. More common (and much easier on the viewer’s heart) is the romantic comedy version, which at its best is nonstop hijinks and opportunities for skinship.


Prime Minister and I

In Prime Minister and I, the heroine proposes marriage to the hero while drunk and clinging to his leg, after he just bailed her out of jail. That scene is perfectly emblematic of the way she bursts into the life of this sober, humorless man and turns it delightfully upside down. Contract marriages facilitate this kind of dynamic by bringing together two people who are so different in their personalities and circumstances that they would otherwise never become close, and accelerating the getting-to-know-you process so we can get to the good stuff faster.

Another example of this is Accidental Couple (also known as That Fool), in which a movie star hires a regular guy to pose as her husband in order to avoid a scandal with her actual boyfriend. The hero clearly recognizes that it’s a business deal and his “wife” is out of his league, yet he still demands respect when she tries to dismiss him the way she’s used to doing with everyone. His quiet dignity is swoonworthy (props to Hwang Jung-min for an excellent performance), and as viewers we fall in love with his decency along with the heroine, as she slowly begins to realize what a treasure she has by her side, and decides to fight for him.

Can Love Become Money is pretty campy and over the top (those velvet suits!), but I enjoyed it immensely. Yeon Jung-hoon is a selfish and money-crazy CEO whose uncle plans to will his massive fortune either to his nephew’s future wife, or to charity. So the hero hatches a scheme to hire beautiful gold-digger Eom Ji-won to marry him in exchange for a small (but still obscene) chunk of that change. A farcical romance ensues between two people who are willing to do almost anything for money—until they realize that they’ve found something that they value more. At heart, it’s the story of two lonely people hiding behind masks who find a family in each other, and that might be the dramaland catnip to beat them all. The ultimate fulfillment of any contract relationship trope is when each person becomes willing to open themselves up to heartbreak by admitting they’re in love for real, if it means a chance at happiness. As for me, whenever two characters are made for each other, and the forces of the drama universe entrap them into marriage so they can figure that out—you can bet I’ll be watching.


Can Love Become Money

 
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I was literally thinking about how contract relationships/fake dating is one of my favorite dramaland tropes this morning! King2Hearts is one of my all time favorite dramas, and I love how she makes him earn her back. I love this trope so much that, even though I never watch straight melo dramas, I watched Marriage Contract when it aired. I am even contemplating watching the Thai version of Full House because of my love for this trope. (Tangent: I still can't get over how the female second lead in the original Full House literally accessorized her outfits with her bra.)

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I LOVE Full House--Thai. AoMike are stinkin' freakin cute in that drama. And there's this ice cream kiss that is just....whoa, mama.

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Duly noted...now to find the time to watch.

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now Im intrigued to watch Full House thai ver

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This is a beautiful remake of Full House !
I feel like they erased all the bad points from the original, pick up actors with slizzling chemistry, shake it all, and give us a perfect and addicting version of the story.

Also, the parts filmed in Korea are pure gold, worth of promotional material for tourism !

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I LOVE the Full House Thai ver. too! If you love these two as the OTP, then you must watch Kiss Me, the Thai version of Playful Kiss (Korean) / It Started With a Kiss (Taiwanese) / Itazura na Kiss (Japanese).

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(Caution: Shameless plug ahead!)
Pause whatever drama your watching and WATCH the Thai version of Full House NOW!! It's AMAZING! Yes, the actors have/had phenomenal chemistry but what makes it great is the story. The writers fleshed out the story and gave it some body. There's weight to this latest rendition and you get the struggle that the male lead is facing. Most notably though is that the main couple have an actual relationship which evolves over the course of the show. That was important to me because, IMO, the Korean version left me thinking, "Why on earth would those two people ever be together?" Major Plus, the episodes are 45 minutes compared to average lakorn running time of hour and forty-five minutes.

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The Thai version of Full House has its missteps but on the whole it's a great drama and the chemistry between the leads is amazing.

I'm currently watching the Thai version of Goong but I'm probably going to drop it.

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My thoughts exactly! I never watch melos because of impending heartbreak, but I got sucked into Marriage Contract anyway (and am so glad that I did).

Hahaha, I also remember those bras...She even did that for formal events!

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Those bras were the death of me. I would text my friend screenshots of her, like "Am I really seeing this?" I mean, I get that they were super frilly and thus were pretty much meant to be seen, but it kind of looked like she didn't know how to do up buttons after a while? And I mean, I get it once or twice, but that was basically her signature look, which, no.

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All the dramas that came to mind when I read the title is here! From Full House to Prime Minister and I (the most recent in ny memory). I absolutely adore this catnip as well.

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Thanks Laica! This is not catnip of mine but I really loved Fated To Love You... and I actually thought Full House was ok! (I liked Song Hye Kyo more there than in DOTS tbh).

Of course, arranged marriages are part and parcel of historical dramas. I particularly like it when they get to know each other and fall in love after the marriage, like Three Musketeers(Seo Hyun Jin & Lee Jin Wook) and Faith (King Gongmin and his Yuan princess!)

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Three Musketeers! Ah loved that drama!

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This is my crack. I'mma watchin' pretty much anything with this plot point.

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Really into this genre around 2004--I think that was when Full House broadcast, because Song Hye kyo a.k.a. melodrama queen starred rom-com. It was so refreshing to see the hilarity.
Until today the magic of marriage without dating still works for me.

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awww i suddenly miss sassy girl chun hyang! One of the classic and the best k drama all time.

Not to mention king 2 heart, such a great drama, what can i say more sighh. Time to rewatch! ☺️

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Sassy Girl has one of my favourite time jumps where the male lead goes from cute to oh wow yes please.

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Awww I am guilty of this catnip. Any forced cohabitation always gets me. I have seen most of the dramas mentioned here. I remember them all fondly: Full House, Goong, Delightful Girl, Fated to Love You, Prime Minister and I.

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I just finished (like last night just finished) watching The Accidental Couple. I enjoyed it but the OST for the couple (that was played roughly ever 3.9 seconds) drove me so far up the wall--the site I was watching it on translated the lyrics and whenever they popped up I pressed mute. It was really cute, though!

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Although this isn't really a catnip of mine, I really enjoyed King2Hearts.

For me, rather than marriage before dating, I prefer the whole process of the two leads getting to know each other more and falling for each other first. My favorite stages in korean dramas are usually the moments when one of the leads falls for the other and starts pursuing them <3
oh and also the jealousy that ensues! :3

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Oh, this one is definitely the trope that got me every time. Two completely different people are forced to be together and start to learn to accept one another with bickering and grumbling along the way. That's so entertaining to watch. I especially love this kind of relationship when it's in the rom-com department, and fortunately, it mostly is.

My favorite from Laica's list would be My little Bride. The hero always treats the heroine adorably like his own little sister but it didn't feel weird when it turns to romance.

I also like Moon Geun-Young's another contract marriage movie, 'Innocent steps', though that one is leaning on a melo side

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I love Innocent Steps. Such a sweet little gem. My Little Bride is also my favorite of Laica's list!

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Yeah I was going to mention that they bickered like siblings but it felt a bit icky to me, haha!

And yes, how could I have forgotten? Loved Innocent Steps!

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Moon is so talented and she made it work.
I really miss seeing here in dramas and I hope she is coming back when she is healthy.

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Ooooo. I haven't seen Innocent Steps. Will have to check it out. Thanks!

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Thanks Laica!

So true what you say...
"At heart, it’s the story of two lonely people hiding behind masks who find a family in each other, and that might be the dramaland catnip to beat them all. The ultimate fulfillment of any contract relationship trope is when each person becomes willing to open themselves up to heartbreak by admitting they’re in love for real, if it means a chance at happiness." - I believe this is the part that is catnip for me. The enforced bringing together of flawed, lonely people who do become family, and become so much more fulfilled and maybe more outward looking, generous and good as a result, ... this gives me the warmest feels.

I've been wondering if there's anything that will draw me into a drama with greater certainty (but again it's not an always thing), and it's the marriage before dating trope, with the sense of a bond even before the couple falls in love. The fact that because of the marriage, the intimacy is so right and valid, and yet because the official 'in love' part is not there yet, quite hard to get down right. I too love all the frustrations and embarrassments that ensue.

I love how the marriage suddenly gives them the right to belong to each other, (or conversely, to say he/she belongs to me), but they still have to date and get to know each other as if they are unattached strangers, but with benefits.

Now you've made me want to get hold of My Little Bride! 😆

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Same. I've heard good things about My Little Btide for a while, but Laica's entry makes me want to watch it soon. Maybe this week. Need to go hunting for that movie.

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I love seeing the characters slowly but surely fall in love with each other-- and sometimes, this love, because of their circumstances, it seems like it becomes stronger than your typical 'fall in love as the story progresses' kind of love, it emphasizes and heightens their emotions all the more and makes their love all the more rare. "Wonderful Life" was a really good one that's probably the closest to a real life situation of how 2 people would fall in love after getting married but it's due to a very realistic situation. "Full House" was the most wacky or unrealistic one of all (because, really, can someone really sell your own house, that's under your own name, without your consent?) but I would think that it would be the one that all fangirls would want to happen in their own lives: for a Hallyu star to fall in love with us LOL Finally, "Marriage Contract" is the one that hits home the most for me, despite it being a very rare situation that any person would probably encounter (though, I don't doubt that situations of "organ selling" do happen under the table like this besides the black market); Uee really did put her all into this performance and it was all the more complemented by Lee Seo Jin's acting with such gravitas (but who are we kidding? Lee Seo Jin always brings it in all of his roles) and with such raw emotions--by episode 6, I started to question whether or not Uee and Lee Seo Jin were acting anymore heh-- when Lee Seo Jin cried, I also felt like crying, and whenever Uee cried, I cried along with her T.T

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Accidental Couple / That Fool is one of my favorite rarely-mentioned dramas. I fell hard for several of those characters, and Hwang Jung Min just killed it with his performance. Also, approximately a hundred years ago, Han Sang Chul (the main woman's younger brother) totally ranked as #10 on my Drama Boyfriend list. (I have proof!: http://insipid-paragon.livejournal.com/252473.html Oh, LiveJournal.)

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Accidental Couple is one of my favourites too. Hwang Jung Min was beyond awesome in it!!!

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He sure was! I'd never seen him before and thought, where did they get this goofy looking guy? And I simply hated the lead female character, so I knew I'd never make it past probably episode 5. I ended up loving them both and the show so much, I wish more people knew about it. He doesn't really leave films to do dramas often, does he?

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I love that drama. It doesn't nearly enough love.

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Woah, I think I remember your username. Drama fandom on livejournal was actually really great!

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I love ones like these. They're some of my favorites to watch.

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I loooove this trope. Forced/secret marriages are hilarious to watch because of all the bickering (they normally can't stand each other, I wonder why?) and I love watching them slowly realize how cute and endearing the other person is. And then it gets awesomely awkward as they struggle to deal with their new feels.

It's such a fairytale-like story, but I'm a total sucker for it. 😍

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Awesome write-up!!! You have a way with words. My kdrama first love happens to be Delightful Girl Chun-hyang. 😍 Loved King2Hearts as well. Even though Fated to love you was cheesy, I was invested. Lol.

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This is my second favorite catnip. Marriage before dating has sucked me into innumerable bad (and a few great) dramas, films, and books.

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Marriage, Not Dating.
That's my favorite in this genre. (And it's catnip for me, too. I don't know why. I would be really ticked if my parents had picked out my husband. Especially since they didn't like my "intended" until we'd been married for about 5 years.
Great Catnip pick, Laica.

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My title was definitely a nod to MND, which I love, but I left it out, because technically it's more like Engagement, Not Dating.

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Huzzah! This trope is my bread and butter 😍😍. I love it because it gives our leads opportunity for lots of skinship with each other while providing a basis for an honest connection, which is simply because they're not trying to impress each other, as they normally would in non-contract relationships. It's why I loved Mask so much, despite the last four episodes. Same for Tomorrow With You, which I count because it feels like it wasn't real for the hero until after they got married, and they then had to work through real problems and figure how to stay together. It's why I sat through Mary Stayed Out All Night. No, wait, it was because of Kim Jae-wook's face, haha oops. But in my defense that show sucked.

That last line though! There's an irresistable magic to me of everyone in the show believing the leads are together but they really weren't and then they actually are. It's kind of like a 'Gotcha!' moment where the universe already pointed out to them where they were gonna end up and it's just that it takes them a while to get on with the program. I'm basically rewording what Laica's said, but yeah haha.

Bonus when they're actually married and have to go through the fun process of getting to know each other then. Because just imagine the natural mutual uncertainty over liking the other but knowing if the other likes them, except, they're married so 😆

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Yes! Marriage before dating/Marriage of Convenience is my drama catnip too! I'm also a sucker for the fake/contract/convenience engagement trope as well. My favorite rom-com is Marriage Not Dating where the 2 leads enter into a fake engagement that turns real. Also enjoyed Bride of the Century with it's arranged engagement/marriage setup. J-Drama Hapi Mari/Happy Marriage was an enjoyable drama of contract marriage. Interestingly, the marriage before dating trope is very prevalent in Thai dramas, so I've seen a few of those. Padiwarada/Beloved Loyal Wife was a sweet Thai drama about an arranged marriage. I've seen most of the dramas on this list, but there were a few I hadn't heard of so I'll defiitely be checking those out.

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Sweet 18 was one of my favorite dramas back then! I fell in love with Lee Dong Gun! It was very well done, everything including the music fitted so well together. It was just such a sweet drama! I remember loving Lee Dong Gun's character because he always ended up doing the right thing for his sometimes immature crybaby wife. He was I guess righteous like the prosecutor that he was. Whenever you thought something would go wrong, it didn't and actually brought them closer. And Han Ji Hye was so cute!
It is definitely a cute catnip! And I did watch most of the shows mentioned! Full House had great music too! I remember thinking about these contract marriages that really, maybe it's all about being stuck together! The other person just grows on you as you have no choice but to endure them. The thing about marriage before dating is that usually they can't walk away, at least at first, so they learn to co-habit and deal with/face their situation. Unlike dating where you can just break up anytime, walk away when it gets too hard or you are bored, and maybe you never get to the point where you can actually learn be together, forever! So yes, I too love it when there is more to consider than just the main couple, it does create a fuller picture and, yes, truer, deeper love! Wasn't there a saying or comparison that said that in Western cultures, you love first and then you get married, while in Asian cultures, you get married first and then fall in love?! I can't remember where it's from. Anyways, it's an old saying as times have changed! But still cute in Kdramas!

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sweet 18! Lee Dong Gun was the most handsome (and young?) here. and Han Ji Hye was perfect as brat high-schooler. So funny and made me laughing so hard

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NOW THIS IS WHAT I LIVE FOR. My love of contract relationships and arranged marriages extends into American shows as well as fan fiction. There's something oddly satisfying as seeing two people who hate each other build a friendship and then fall in love. BONUS POINTS FOR SLOW BURN

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Could I include My Daughter Seo Young in this catnip? It happens to the other couple though, not main couple.
So, there's this guy named Lee Sang Woo (Park Haejin) who has to marry anyone but his ex, because this ex girlfriend is actually his sister in law (his sister marry her brother). His sister doesn't want her secret revealed that they are actually sibling, or twin to be exact. To protect his sister he then breaks up with the girl and marries another girl who has loved him since long ago. He doesn't love her but he thinks that they can be friends at least.
The marriage they are going through feels so real for me. The girl who harbours crush to him but well aware that he doesn't marry her out of love try her best to keep safe distance and not to disturb him. While he tries his best to make their marriage work. The process is funny, heart fluttering and yet heartbreaking. Until now it becomes my no 1 favourite family drama.

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I think Im going to watch My Daughter Seo Young after I read your comment. I love family drama and also this catnip 💓 "What Happens to My Family?" also a family drama has this kind of catnip in one of its lead. Jung Dam Bin I think was the girl who was a daughter of an Hospital doctor marries on of the lead guy for connections sake. It was cute tho

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I liked this show so much. The lead actors - Lee Sang Woo, Lee Bo Young and Park Hey Jin have their own shows (Whisper and Man to Man) recently, I can't help but feel they have really aged and I did not enjoy these shows as much as My Daughter, Seo Young.

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I watch Man to Man and Whisper... and because I watched them almost at the same time, I couldn't help but feeling nostalgic.

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I watch WHTMF, too. Now that you mentioned it, I remember they are both doctor - rich girl pairing. The girl in MDS is sweet, funny, kinda childish at times but she's brave and holds full responsibility to her action / choice.

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My new watch list! Thanks Laica. 😀

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Yup. This is totally my catnip as well. I have loved every single drama mentioned except for the ones I haven't seen yet, and those have just jumped to the top of my to-watch list.

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This one isn't really a catnip of mine, but I love Marriage Contract a lot. It was such a heartwarming and lovely story, nothing like the tearjerker I thought it would be. And watching precious Shin Ri-na wormed her way to Lee Seo-jin's life and heart was so satisfying.

I also really like Prime Minister and I, until they decided to use the ex-wife trope in he latter half, which I think is unnecessary and ruined an otherwise good, sweet drama.

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Although this category isn't necessarily drama catnip for me, I love Goong beyond reason (still best kdrama kiss!) and That Fool is one of my favorite underrated dramas (especially for how much I loathed-to-loved the lead female character). (And falling in love with Hwang Jung Min.) Great job, Laica!

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Loved Goong!

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I'm guilty of this too. Now I need to rewatch King 2 Hearts

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I'm crying! I LOOOOVE this trope! Thank you for your wonderful article, Laica! I am such a sucker for all forms of the fake marriage. There are several shows I haven't seen here which I need to check out now. I definitely liked King2Hearts and Prime Minister and I. I adored Mask which was part arranged/contract marriage. I also love royal arranged marriages - like in The Great Doctor, The Princess' Man, and The Three Musketeers. :D

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I will admit this was my catnip until I grew up and realized the apparent reality of arranged marriage ! Lol !
Never has anything freaked me out so much as that concept that I had to give a break to kdramas! 😂
And also grew up more and learnt to differentiate between fiction and reality 😄😛

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I like this trope, too, but...alas, have I only watched Full House and bits and pieces of Marriage Contract? I watched the entire Taiwanese Fated to Love You, but when I sit down to count, it seems like I haven't watched very many at all..

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Definitely my favourite catnip ❤
Thank you, Laica for writing this wonderful reviews. I now have more shows to add on my watchlist. The King 2 Hearts is ❤ and I love Goong because of the main couple hilarious antics to each other. I don't know how much I rewatched that drama 😂

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YASSS! My ultimate catnip! Thanks for all the references @lacia !!! Imma watch all these now!!

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My fave contract marriage drama is Full House. It was the first drama that really made me into a k-drama fan. And once I watched MNKSS, I was a goner. The plot was so refreshing coz I think that was the first drama on contract marriage. Although the plot went downhill really fast, especially with the ridiculous rejection because of his first love.....It was not a compelling reason for noble idiocy. Yes, bad fashion, bad writing, bad acting (too much yelling from Rain), but somehow it was so addictive. I blame the OTP.

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While some of the catnips discussed before were surprise catnips for me, this one -contract relationships/fake dating- is an acknowledged favorite. I always seem tp look forward to the ensuing hijinks and how one or bothe fall in love. While Laica isnt brave enoughto rewatch Full House, I on the otherhand re-watch it from time to time, and still feel happy satisfied even after watching itfor the nth time

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so surprised to see Can Love Become Money is mentioned. haha, another rather unknown drama that i watched. i was looking for a Yeon Jung Hoon drama after finishing Vampire Prosecutor, craving for more Yeon Jung Hoon kekeke. so i found this drama where he's the lead & jumped right into it.

i can only vaguely remember that it wasn't really a pleasant experience, maybe because i was unfamiliar with the female lead, Eom Ji Won, even until now, other than the fact that she's close friends with Gong Hyo Jin, Lee Min Jung, Son Ye Jin & more LOL 😅

amteun, i usually avoid contract marriage/relationship dramas coz i dont like seeing people getting forced to do things they dont want to. if im watching one, it's mainly due of the cast most of the time, like Mary Stayed Out All Night & Marriage Contract, which may result in disappointments or surprised delights. i watched Goong due to the hype though haha

this trope is widely used & greatly loved. hope more dramas of this element with quality writing are produced & we can savour them with great joy!

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This has to be one of my favorite dramaland catnips, too. The King 2 Hearts is one of my all-time favorite dramas. It's probably the only drama I watched both raw and subbed episodes because I couldn't wait for the subs to come out. I also have a soft spot for Wonderful Life as it's 1st drama I watched from start to end. Marriage, not Dating is also another good one.

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Yes, my catnip as well <3 <3 .... though I see it more as a special case of my general catnip "contract relationship"...

...and I suddenly have urge to watch the fridge kiss.... 8--)))

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Full House 😻😻😻 definitely catnip for me and well the larger genre of contract/agreement before love: like My Name is Kim Sam Soon and Marriage, Not Dating. Heroines who are endearingly messy and relatable. Oooooo is someone going to post about Cohabitation Catnip like 9 ends 2 outs?

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Yeeeees! You hit it out of the park, chingu!

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Thanks, chingu! ♥

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All I can say is Goong! Goong! Goong!!!!!!!
I LOVED that drama! Yoon Eun hye was mwah (when is she coming back to dramaland?....) Full house was my first too! It was being shown on a local tv station and I looked forward to it every week. The premise was more than weird - granted. But full house is still the grand papa of contract marriages.
Absolutely love your catnip *thumbs up

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God bless you for including wonderful life, i love it to pieces. but why???? no marriage without dating.....

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God bless you for including wonderful life i love every bit of it but i did not marriage without dating, that was the second kdrama i ever watched, i so much love it...

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Two of my all-time favorites, Goong and Full House, fall under this catnip. 😍❤️ This is a dramaland favorite as well, I think. Makes me wonder why there are too many failed marriages in real life when almost all forced marriages in dramaland ends up really well 😂😂😂

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this would be my catnip above all the other ones!

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I love that catnip! I've kept fond memories of Full House, Goong and Wonderful Life which are my first kdramas

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thanks for this article, i too love these types of dramas. i added a bunch of them to my watchlist that i maintain on mydramalist.com but i noticed many of them have remakes (korean) so i took a stab at which ones you meant. would be helpful to have the year of the drama referenced in your article since some of them are very old. Or the names of the actors in the couple role.

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This article gave me some great drama recommendations to watch next! Thank You!!!!

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Ah! I love this catnip :-) I thoroughly enjoyed King2Hearts & Goong even though our heroines got their hearts & trust broken over & over again, shattered to pieces and stomped on till it turned to dust, I was amazed at hoe they preserved.
Fated To love you was also fun to watch, in the first half of the drama at least, then it dragged & I skipped to the end.
And finally, My little bride, I still have it in my laptop, & I watch it sometimes. I never got over the age difference, or the way their parents forced them to marry (nobody was particularly running away or dying, what was the rush? they could've waited until the heroine was of legal age.) nor did I ever understand their parent's concern after forcing them to marry (especially the heroine's mother acting over-the-top protective, & the hero's dad advising him to treat his new wife "properly"; like what do you expect from a newly wed? & if everyone is so concerned about the girl being a minor why force them in the first place???!!! aagh!!) But anyway, the lead actors' acting is what I enjoy all the time, that is the reason I watch it so many times.

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Even if I dislike some dramas above and haven't watched the others, I know this is my catnip! I LOVE Full House... it's the first Korean drama that made an impression on me, my younger, teenager-self who didn't know anything about Korea at that time except Song Hye Kyo because her Endless Love (Autumn In My Heart) drama was the first K-drama aired in my country and Rain due to his singing and dancing. I also love Fated to Love You despite its mopey 2nd half, Prime Minister and I despite the ending (the handshake!!) and My Little Bride. Probably just my preference but when you watch married couple doing sweet things it just seems so sweet and adorable, esp when they're strangers (or enemies) at first. Having boyfriend/girlfriend is common, but the idea of marriage, with more commitment, burden and responsibilities adds weight to the romance and the One True Pairing. The viewers become some sort of supporter to their marriage and we just want them to be happy because we know deep down the characters love each other despite many problems/conflicts they have.

One drama I recommend to add to the list is Mask.. I really love the OTP and their hijinks! From strangers, to reluctant lovers, to sweet lovers, they're the best thing Mask ever have alongside Yeon Jung Hoon. (Spoiler warning) Love the scenes when Joo Ji Hoon tears their contract and when they kiss on the courthouse steps. Joo Ji Hoon & Soo Ae remains on the top of my OTP list (among others, of course).

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