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[Beanie Recs] Contract romances on the brain


Ahoy, Beanies! It’s time to gather your collective genius for a recommendation series that features you and your drama knowledge. Each week we’ll drop a drama conundrum and leave it up to you to provide a drama rec, and the appropriate rationale behind it, be it long or short. Respond below!

In my excitement for Park Min-young’s upcoming rom-com Love in Contract, I have contract romances on my brain, and am looking for some recs. Contract marriages are preferred, but contract dating will do in a pinch.


Have a very particular drama itch that needs scratching? In need of a Beanie Rec? Email us at hello @ dramabeans.com and we’ll feature your topic in a future post.
 
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The two that immediately come to mind are rom coms:
Marriage not dating
Business proposal

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LOVE Marriage Not Dating

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It is one of my all-time favorites. I have re-watched it more than once.

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Me too. A LOT more than once!

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I like the first one. (I am a fan of the ML and the actress who plays his mother).
I have yet to finish the second one (in spite of FL being Kim se jeong). Somehow I am stuck on episode 9 and have no interest to watch further. (I LOVED haraboji too)

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Because This is My First Life
My Girl (except it's a siblings contract I think)
Full House

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We have Quite a few here, don’t we? but I can’t seem to recollect.

Because this is my first life and Something about 1% comes to mind.
Both of these I quite liked.

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In the order of how I enjoyed them :-
Because This Life is My First.
Marriage Contract.
The Prime Minister and I.
The Beauty Inside.
Perfume.

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Because This Is My First Life
Couple or Trouble (remake of the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell Classic "Overboard")
Full House
Her Private Life - has contract dating in the beginning
Marriage, Not Dating
Mary Stayed Out All Night

Fated to Love You - Taiwan version was first, but there's also a Korean remake and a Chinese remake.

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I was trying to decide if Her Private Life counted as contract dating! It was definitely fake dating, but since it was just for her protection, I wasn't sure if they ever made it contractual.

I think it meets the spirit of the request regardless, and it certainly put them in some fun situations!

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You're right...it wasn't a contract but just fake dating. Couple or Trouble falls into that category as well...not a contract but a fake marriage because the FL has amnesia.

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Full House, Happiness, Her Private Life and Crazy Love in addition to the ones that were already mentioned

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Contract Marriages:

Marriage Contract - a melo but so very good

Full House - the OG

Happiness - FL marries her long time friend because she desperately wants an apartment of her own. Trade off being that it’s a zombie infested building

Once Again - an interesting spin, a divorced couple too cowardly to tell their respective families pretend they are still together

Forced/Arranged Marriages:

Delightful Girl Chun-hyang - they get married when they are still in high-school, I honestly don’t remember why, I think they were misunderstood as spending the night together?

Mask - a chaebol arranged marriage with a doppelgänger twist!

Accidental Pregnancies:

Fated To Love You - our two protagonists get drugged and sleep together, they obviously have a surprise pregnancy and get hitched.

Ojakkyo Brothers - in a similar vein but instead they get drunk and get pregnant and are the secondary couple in this family drama

Contract/Fake Dating:

Coffee Prince - ummm it’s a little offensive but ML asks FL (who he thinks is a dude) to be in a fake gay relationship so that he can put an end his family’s blind date obligations

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Stranger and me/man living at my house counts i think. Fl finds out her mom who passed away was in a contract marriage and now has to live with her 'step father'

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Since most of the K-dramas have been named, I'll go slightly further afield and recommend some J-dramas with very elaborate marriage contract plots:
1. Marry Me! - Marriage contract under a government program (yes really!)
2. Shanai Marriage Honey - Contract marriage between co-workers who don't know they're co-workers
3. Only Just Married - Fake marriage for...reasons...

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The J-drama SHANAI MARRIGE HONEY is not really a contract marriage story given that the couple intends to get married for real from the beginning- although the ML's reason for it is similar to the contract marriage situation. It is the story of a truly impulsive spur of the moment marriage and of our couple having to work things out later. In many ways it is almost a uniquely silly story.

Silly but wonderful. A story that I recommend to everyone without exception.

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dont forget about Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu. Gakki so cute in this drama.

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2. Soooo sweet like literal honey but i loved it.
3. I’m pretty sure i just saw this. I can’t remember what it is but I’m convinced i enjoyed it too 🤣

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I think that many of my favorite romcoms fall into this category, and I would recommend all of these very highly, and I have arranged them in order from TRULY great down to really good:

BECAUSE THIS IS MY FIRST LIFE

BUSINESS PROPOSAL

MARRAIGE NOT DATING

1% OF SOMETHING which was a remake of 1% OF SOMETHING (both are really good).

FATED TO LOVE YOU a remake of a good T-drama, but Jang Nara nailed it, and the re-make is actually better. It is in my opinion the very best version of story that has been re-made elsewhere as well.

FULL HOUSE

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I meant that 1% OF SOMETHING was a remake of 1% OF ANYTHING.

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Fated to love you Korean version was the second k-drama I watched and the first one that gave me all the feels. I also fell in love with Jang Nara. And contract marriage is still my catnip.

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Because this is My First Life has a double dose - one contract marriage, and one contract dating (FL's friend is contract-dating the ML's friend/boss)... and one scene where the inevitable discovery of the other's contract happens in a paper shuffle.

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Marriage Contract. I quite little offhand watch, it's always somehow stayed with me and was deeper and richer than I expected it to be.

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I love a good contract marriage. I also love how the reasons they enter into one often tell us about the culture. Because this is my first life - finding housing is a major stressor on young people in Seoul. Chinese drama, Time to Fall in Love - they marry to make the elders (his grandmother) happy. And in the Netflix movie Purple Hearts set in the U.S. what could make people need to enter a contract marriage? Health insurance.

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How serendipitous! I just finished 1% of Anything/something and loved it. A couple forced kisses, but otherwise enjoyable. Lots of unforced consensual kissing otherwise. And good kissing too! 😆 I’ve got kissing on the brain apparently.

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If I hadn’t watched the drama, I would have been sold. Good sales!

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Recommended:
Because this is my first life: exceptional till episode 14. Stop there. No need to go further.
1% of anything (newer one): enjoyable.
Marriage not dating: quite enjoyable and even insightful in certain scenes.
A business proposal: Breezy till episode 10.
Happiness: Added bonus of friends to lovers
The romance of tiger and rose: Utter fun.

Avoid:
Goong: Teen marriage even involves adult forcing teenager to do something they shouldn’t.
Well intended love: Just run. This drama has no business of being in existence.
Somewhere in between:
Sassy Girl, Chun Hyang (2005): I have no recollection of the drama but I wasn’t offended by it.
Fated to love you: Essential for Jang Na ra and Jang Hyuk admirers.
To fly with you: Lead pair is quite charismatic.
Crazy love: Only for Kim Jae Wook fans
Unforgettable love: For fans of cute kids

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There is apparently going to be a re-make of GOONG. Maybe they will fix some of the problems with the original.

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Yes I heard that so watched the original in preparation.

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Goong is one of my all-time favorite dramas. It's made clear at the start of the first episode that this is a fictional story, so it's supposed to be a check your brain at the door high school drama. Also, it's from the 2000s, so the tropes align with what was popular at the time.

It can be weighed down by the tropes and makjang, but the heart of the story is that everyone is making the decisions that they *think* is the best for everyone, which only makes things worse. But in reality, you need to do what is best for you, and it'll all work out.

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I loved Goong up till the extension. Until episode 12? Or 13? I don't remember exactly, the story was about a modern prince feeling imprisoned in the palace and how he is made to see the positive side of his position.

Then the network announced an extension, and I guess there was no more content, so there was a complete shift in the story, and the characters' personalities. It became a mindless makjang about everyone trying to undermine the female lead in any way they could just for the sake of it. Someone should really pinpoint the timestamp to stop watching those ending episodes and avoiding ruining the story.

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Yeah, there's a point where the story kinda recirculates. The exiled princess gets extra evil for no reason and manipulates her son to cause more issues. So you can fast forward through those scenes. But you should skip to the finale week to tie up all the loose ends. There's a weird time jump at the end, but that was typical for a drama in 2006, so we shouldn't hold that against the story too much with our modern eyes (but definitely some, lol). I think it's really sweet when Chae-Kyung chooses who to love and their bond.

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I was really surprised how much the last couple of episodes of Because this is my first life bummed me out. I still enjoyed it overall, but I don't list it as one of my favorite rom coms just because of the last little bit. I did enjoy the very very ending though, when they show how the main couple are living now. I thought it was such a smart way to compromise and both get what they needed from their relationship. I know endings are hard, but the writer had been doing so well up to the last stretch.

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The writer simply burned out because the story was complete at episode 14 but the contract was for 16. The obvious solution would have been to slow the main story down slightly while giving more time to the side couples.

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Endorse the comment on Well Intended Love. And yet they made a second season which I understand (I am not going to try to verify this) is even worse than the first one.

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Creating Destiny, Lie to Me, Mask, Warm and Cozy, Ojakygo Brothers, and Delightful Girl, Choon Hyang are few faves that come to mind.

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My Name is Kim Sam Soon

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Everything I was going to mention has already been listed, so I’m just going to throw this out there… To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

I know, I know. Not a K-drama, like, at all. In fact, it is very much an American movie, BUT it does have contract dating and the female lead’s character is half-Korean (even though Lana Candor is not—still love her). It was also fun to watch and, I think, had the right amount of tropiness and gave out all the right types of feels to be included here.

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It’s not amazing but it’s an ok webdrama - Ending Again. Tbh I remember very little about it (my notes in my drama list say “it was fine” 😅), it’s a fake marriage to qualify for a newlywed apartment.

Outside of Korean dramas, cdrama Cute Programmer has a contract marriage, but watching it will make your brain cells die faster.

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I found out later that Ending Again is the third installment of a three-part series. So I think it may be better if you watch the first two? idk, haven't tried. I agree that on its own it's "just okay," lol. It's not bad, not great, but an easy watch.

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I had no idea 😂 maybe one day I’ll revisit it again and find out

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Is My (Uri) Hubby Mr Oh counted as contract marriage? If yes, I loved this one. 💓💓💓 and this is my recommendation.

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I looked it up and one version of the title is my contracted husband so definitely sounds like it. It looked like an interesting watch but it’s not available to watch in my region.

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I watched it under the title MY HUSBAND, MR. OH.

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Thanks, it’s still not appearing on the subscription platforms I use. I noticed they swap the content so it may have been removed.

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It is still available on OnDemand Korea- if you know Korean. The English subs are gone, just as they are on Ojakyo Brothers. It appears that ODK must contract the subs with someone but only for a specific period of time, at least in some cases. I dropped my ODK subscription when the English subtitles disappeared from Ojakyo brothers- after having watched a few episodes earlier.

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@oldawyer you would definitely love Ojakgyo Brothers to pieces if you had had a chance to watch it in full. Both Joo Won and Uee won their Baksaengs from that weekender.

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I am sure that I would love it indeed. I do not remember what interrupted my watching when I started it originally. I vaguely remember getting to about the fourth or fifth episodes before being interrupted. I still do not remember why I had to stop. back then.

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The story picks up and by the end you’ll adore this couple. I can’t say more because then it’s gonna be a spoiler.

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My Husband Mr Oh!

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Full House and Sassy Girl Chunhyang - both of which had those elements- were my entries into kdramaland. I think there was a contract element to My Name is Kim Samsoon too, though her working at Jin-heon's restaurant would have meant they would have run into each other anyways.

Such a common trope in cdramas too.

A bit morally gray, but I enjoy its related trope - "you've forgotten because you have amnesia, but you're my husband/wife/gf/bf", a la 100 Days My Prince and Haeundae Lovers

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Not really a contract relationship…but a forced one. Oldie but gold- Princess Hours

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I just watched the Japanese Fight Song on Viki, and I really enjoyed it. The contract relationship happens because the FL wants to make memories before a looming surgery, and the ML needs to feel to write songs again. Possibly because I went through a health scare where for a while it looked like something similar was going to happen to me, I really felt this one. Amazing depiction of a non-typical family. Although the FL made some decisions at times that weren’t the best, they made sense to me as the only way she could deal with what was happening to her- coping is sometimes survival. The ending was very sweet, though. Not tons of kissing, lol, for anyone missing that old romance build up feeling.

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