I never thought we would reach this milestone episode unscathed! Welcome to the world of daytime Korean drama television! The things that Korean housewives watch in the early morning when the children are off to school! I think of all of the daily dramas I’ve seen, there has only been a few morning dramas that I’ve had the privilege to see (Glass Mask was the first). I know the title of this post is got you wondering…read on.
Choi Jung Yoon as Eun Hyun Soo
Kang Sung Min as Bok Soo Ho
Lee Joong Moon as Jang Seo Joon
Seo Eun Chae as Nam Joo Na
Kim Jung Woon as Bok Kyung Ho
Im Sung Uhn as Lee Jae Ni
Ban Hyo Jung as Mrs. Jang
Lee Hye Eun as So Jung
Kim Seung Hwan as Joon Kyu
Uhm Bo Yong as Cho Won
Lee Hye Sun as Kang Bok Hee
Yoo Ji In as Choi Se Ran
Im Ha Ryong as Nam Jae Bok
Park Shin Ah as Young In
Lee Sang Sook as Woo Soon Jung
Yang Hae Rim as Hye Jung
This drama deals with the ugly side of scandals as well as the deep roots disguised within the symbol of wealth, prestige and the desire of high society in Cheongdam District, Seoul; An area which epitomizes the wealthy lifestyle. The main focus surrounds one woman, Hyun Soo (Choi Jung Yoon) who married into a wealthy family but one secret is she is hated by her mother in law (played by Kim Hye Sun) and she is totally unaware of this fact. The story also surrounds the desperate attempts of a wife to have a child.
When I started this little daily drama, I never realized where the story might lead us. As I’ve seen Choi Jung Yoon in a few others, I was mildly intrigued but was also hoping that someone would pick this up for subbing, especially when there are none (other than KBS World dramas) being subbed for the daily drama world. Little did I know that subs are a luxury but this little ditty stands on its own merit as being a highly intoxicating and wildly interesting story. The picture above reflects one of the opening scenes where Hyun Soo rescues her playboy brother in law (played by Kim Jung Woon) from being caught by his wife in a middle of a tryst. Yes, this is an early morning drama! That fact took 3 episodes before I finally realized that I was watching this live at night (US EST) while it was broadcasting in Korea 13 hours later, putting it dead into the 8am range KST! Imagine my surprise! And also imagine my constant query as to how some of what we see is obviously ignored during all times EXCEPT for Prime time! Go figure! This way of thinking is totally opposite of the censorship here in the USA. The shows during the morning hours are pretty vanilla in their content. Granted, in the afternoon, the shows called “daily soaps” definitely pick up in their content of sex, drugs, and videotapes, but in essence, this period must fall earlier in South Korea, as I am seeing while watching this drama.
The story line of this drama is unique. Sure, we have seen mother-in-law (MIL) hate before on many occasions and not just in daily dramas; however, what makes this drama unique is the lengths that a MIL will go in pursuing the utter loathing of said daughter-in-law (DIL). Hyun Soo wasn’t her MIL choice but she was her son’s only choice for wife. Bok Soo Ho (played by Kang Sung Min) is a domineering character. He is the love of his mother’s life and she is willing to concede on his wife choice. But, unknowingly, she has been feeding her birth control pills as part of her regiment of daily herbal pills and therapy that were supposed to help, not hinder this process of her getting pregnant. GASP! Now, I’ve watched a lot of these shows and I have to admit, this is a first!
The other daughter in law (played by Im Sung Uhn) is not in a love match. Kyung Ho, her husband, was forced to marry her and abandon the woman that he loved. These two are so not in love with each other that instead of having a baby the “old fashion” way, she is forced to go through artificial insemination instead. As the other DIL who is pregnant and jealous of the relationship that her MIL and Hyun Soo have, she makes it quite obvious in the beginning, her distain and dislike for Hyun Soo. But wait, you did read that I said the MIL hated Hyun Soo right?
Oh yes, the love she shows to Hyun Soo is syrupy sweet and for all to see but every time that woman leaves Hyun Soo’s presence, she is spewing her hate at an unsuspecting window in her bedroom, her office, you name it! It’s amazing the window pane can maintain glass in it with all that “hate” coming at it! Actress Lee Hye Sun is hitting it out the park as the MIL! The last time I seen her was “New Tales of Gisaeng” where she played the Gisaeng Head Chef looking for her lost daughter but also I remember her fondly from “If Tomorrow Comes” where she played an acidic “other” woman to the hilt! She is fast becoming one of my favorite actresses that can play just about any type of role.
You cannot help but have total sympathy for Hyun Soo. As each lie unravels, this sweet and unsuspecting woman has held her own. When the birth control incident came to light, I was surprised when she walked right out of the house and into a waiting taxi. I think most of us watching were expecting a weeping willow or even a more doormat character; however, Hyun Soo proved us all wrong by refusing to return to her husband and that house. She was convinced that it was a ploy enacted by her MIL who knew how much she wanted children after 5 years of marriage and to find out that she was being denied was something Hyun Soo couldn’t forgive. And the crowd went WILD because we thought this was the moment when she and the lead/second lead character, Jang Seo Joon (played by Lee Joong Moon) would get together. But let’s talk about Seo Joon for awhile.
Seo Joon is almost the male version of Hyun Soo. He is a sweet and mild mannered man who owns his own interior and architectural design company. Seo Joon suffers from the old memory of his mother’s death when he was young. His mother died after she tried to rescue him when he went into the water she told him not to. He ended up safe but she was swept into deeper water and drowned. The memory has haunted him since then and he has this phobia about being near water since then. After his mother drowned, he wandered off in a daze and was lost. He was found in a barn by none other than Hyun Soo when they were younger. It was the care and love that the little girl showed him that was a memory that Seo Joon has held dear since that time. We can call it “first love” if you want but he never forgot Hyun Soo even though he didn’t know her name at the time.
So many years later when he takes off for his mother’s memorial day and Hyun Soo has left her husband’s home, they meet again as strangers. Prior to this, they had met other times in passing; art class, elevator, park bench, when Hyun Soo was mugged but they really never conversed until the trip they both ended up taking. It is not until later that he realizes who she is but it is obvious to all of us watching that Seo Joon has once again fallen in love…but wait, I know, she is married. He doesn’t know that yet.
Unfortunately for Seo Joon, Nam Joo Na (played by Seo Eun Chae) is obsessively in love with him. This woman’s obsession is phenomenal. No woman can talk, laugh, be near, serve him in restaurants, brush up against, damn even live near this man without suffering the wrath of Joo Na. She is convinced that he will marry her and no one else. Her obsession is so great, that she has terrorized women that have worked for him simply for talking to him. The problem she has is that Seo Joon is just not into her…at all. On several occasions, he has told her explicitly that he looks at her as a sister. I believe there has been references to the fact that women who have tried to date him have suffered the consequences dearly. Her obsession would seem laughable if it wasn’t condoned by first her father (played by Im Ha Ryong) who excuses her behavior most of the time, her mother (step mother played by Yoo Ji In) who apologizes but barely chastises the chit for her behavior, Seo Joon’s aunt and uncle who just want rich influential in-laws (be damn if Seo Joon loves the woman) and worse of all Seo Joon who basically ignores everything she does.
Well, almost. Her behavior becomes apparent to us viewers when first Joo Na drops a locket in a parking lot that contains a picture of her and Seo Joon when they were younger and an unsuspecting Hyun Soo parks next to Joo Na and unfortunately running over said locket. Joo Na goes crazy and then blames Hyun Soo for ruining the locket. I know, right about now you said “HUH?” So did we! And to make matters worse, after yelling and screaming at Hyun Soo about fixing the locket she broke, the crazy woman turns around and keys Hyun Soo’s car. Uh huh, she did.
The ultimate act within her obsessions happens when Seo Joon went on that trip for his mother’s memorial day. Remember I mentioned it earlier and he met up with an escaping Hyun Soo? Well, it seems that on that same boat was a friend (I use that term loosely) of Joo Na. This friend, who we , the viewers have come to love dearly, makes a beeline to the cell phone and wastes no time calling Joo Na to tell her that she is on a trip with her boyfriend and she will never believe who she is seeing in front of her. That’s right, Seo Joon and Hyun Soo and “Boy do they look friendly?”. As you can deduct, Joo Na has no friends. She has systematically alienated just about everyone because of their interaction with Seo Joon. The friend, Soo Ah was one of those victims and she has never forgiven Joo Na for her transgression. It is with utter delight that she not only calls Joo Na but agrees to take pictures and videos while following them around, to include the motel/hotel they ended up staying with. Soo Ah, also takes great joy in fabricating facts by sprinkling in fiction. She tells Joo Na how they stayed together in the same room (they did not); they looked like lovers not friends (they did not). Every time Soo Ah talked to Joo Na, she made something up and took the pleasure in doing it. We loved it!!
But as you can predict, all of this came to light as the pictures circulated and Joo Na was chastised but again everyone wanted it to stay hush-hush from Seo Joon to include his grandmother (played by Ban Hyo Jung). However, when Joo Na went as far as investigating who Hyun Soo was living and then proceeded to go to her house (she was still outside her husband home, staying at a friend) and attacked her causing her to hit her head, it was at that moment when Soo Ho, Hyun Soo’s husband walked in and confronted her. But these two know each other as their families had been friends for a long time. Imagine Joo Na’s surprise! And Soo Ho! Again, the pictures came to light, this time to Hyun Soo’s husband.
We were then surprised by the lack of reaction from him. Sure, Hyun Soo had told him what happened but this man and his fiery attitude, we were expecting more and got less. As expected, once Joo Na realized that Hyun Soo was “safe”, she wasted no time in introducing Seo Joon to Hyun Soo and her “husband”. Poor puppy looked so sad in his realization that Hyun Soo was “off the market”. Again, I think Soo Ho dismissed their relationship (Hyun Soo and Seo Joon) because I think he believed that Seo Joon was involved with Joo Na and their meeting and the trip was truly coincidental as it was.
Recently, Seo Joon’s family as well as Hyun Soo and Joo Na realize that Hyun Soo is none other than the little girl that “rescued” Seo Joon when they were children. As you can imagine, Seo Joon’s family (especially his grandmother) are very happy to finally meet the person who literally saved him from freezing to death. A friendship is born.
Well, right about now you are asking yourself, what is the “eeww factor” of this drama? In recent episodes, since Hyun Soo returned to the home of her husband and his family, a lot has happened. Her SIL lost her baby not long after agreeing to taking the blame for the birth control pills incident. Jae Ni stupidly agreed to take the blame because of her father’s company being in bankruptcy. Her MIL made the deal of financial help if she would say that she did it out of jealous which is exactly what she did. As Hyun Soo is a trusting and forgiving soul, she forgives everyone and returns home and not long afterwards, Jae Ni has a miscarriage. As a result of the miscarriage, it is determined that Jae Ni will have difficulties in the future having children. Her usefulness is no longer required (by her MIL’s standards).
It is about this time that Soo Ho has finally agreed that to keep Hyun Soo, he needs to impregnate her. he is very adamant in his demands to his mother because he has told her he doesn’t believe that Jae Ni was the one and that he cannot live without his wife..period. So begins the doctor visits by both Hyun Soo and Soo Ho. Hyun Soo is deemed fit and ready for parenthood; however, the opposite is true for Soo Ho. At the fertility clinic, the poor doctor informs Soo Ho of his condition which is so severe that he will never, I mean never father children. So, all this time that the MIL has been preventing pregnancies, they never would have had children in the first place. I did mention that fiery personality before, right?
As you can imagine, this news doesn’t sit well with Soo Ho who goes ballistic at the clinic and this scene is witnessed by none other than Seo Joon who was visiting a doctor friend there. Not only does he witness the scene where security is dragging out a screaming Soo Ho but he also overhears his doctor friend mumbling about an insane male patient who is sterile blaming him! Yes, that is right, Seo Joon easily puts 2 + 2 together to figure who that patient was. One thing I didn’t mentioned was Seo Joon was also there when Hyun Soo first heard that someone was feeding her birth control pills. I tell you what, I’m going to hang out in a Korean hospital and see how much patient information I can learn just walking down the halls!! Okay, that requires me to understand Korean but it does make you wonder, huh?
Soo Ho continues to worry that he will lose his wife. He is so worried that he refuses to tell her the truth about his condition. He refuses to consider adoption but instead tells his wife that he just doesn’t want to have kids anymore. As you can imagine, this doesn’t sit well with Hyun Soo and you can slowly watch as their relationship is breaking apart. This is also noticed by Soo Ho who has drunken nights as he battles his “sterility” demons and the fear of losing his wife. As there is no privacy in that fertility clinic, Soo Ho’s mother learns of his condition just by listening to the nurses. She has had her henchman secretary follow just about everyone in that family! She learns about her son’s visits to the clinic and witnesses him there talking to the nurses. It is when he leaves that she learns her son is sterile. By the by, she confronts him about this and he tells her how he doesn’t want Hyun Soo to find out because he is afraid to lose her. This causes another visit to the window for another angry conversation about her useless daughter in laws but there is a spark…a thought pops into that evil mind. You figured it out yet? No? Let me give you 2 words: Artificial Insemination (AI).
Every since Jae Ni lost the baby, these two women have been bumping heads left and right. The hate that the MIL spewed towards Hyun Soo for most of the first 40 or so episodes have now been heaped onto the other DIL. As the MIL is aware of Jae Ni’s difficulties with getting pregnant and now she has her beloved first son is sterile, the “brilliant” but twisted idea has come to her head. Have you put it together yet? That’s right. From her previous conversations with her younger DIL about trying AI again, instead wasting good sperm on an impossible task or using a surrogate mother, why not just use the DIL you despise as a brood mare and inseminate her with her BIL’s sperm?!
Brilliant idea! As long as the parties involved don’t know about it. This is coming from the woman who came up with the idea to switch fertility herbal medicine that Seo Joon’s grandmother, an oriental medicine doctor, gave Hyun Soo with birth control medicine, again using the same exact containers (Hyun Soo found this too) with the hope of continuing to prevent said DIL from procreating; however, now she needs her! I’ve watched a lot of dramas before. A LOT! And never in the history of my drama watching have I come across this story line. Never! In episode 50, she has convinced her son to go along with using an anonymous donor and Hyun Soo has happily agreed thinking they will be using her husband’s sperm; Jae Ni thinks that her husband, Kyung Ho will be providing the sperm to a surrogate; round and round the sperm goes, until it stops, nobody knows where it will go!!
This story line was first mentioned by a soompi poster (valsava, we salute you) for the Cheongdamdong Scandal forum. So many of us tittered and deemed it would never happen; never! We have since given high praise to this individual for seeing what we dared the writer wouldn’t do and they have done it! YES! The screenwriter has shocked and awed us viewers! Totally! But we love it! It is the surprises that we are constantly bombarded with that makes this a great drama to watch. From the introduction of side characters that we know and love (Soo Ah) to a sprinkling of the obsessed ex (or should I say continuing) mistress that rears her ugly head of Soo Ho, the dutiful husband we all thought he was was. NOT! The constant dithering of a husband as he lies and lies and lies to his wife after promising to her never to lie again. We also got to finally see Seo Joon’s reaction when he found out that not only did Joo Na have him followed and took pictures (Soo Ah took joy and pleasure in sending him the pictures, videos as well as audio of Joo Na asking her to do this) but also accosted Hyun Soo to the point of putting her in the hospital!
I cannot believe we have reached the half way mark!! I also think we are getting closer to one of two things: Hyun Soo discovering all the lies Soo Ho told her (one being “I did not have relations with that woman”) and leaving her husband or the MIL is actually successful in her evil AI plans. Gosh, I am hoping for door number 1! If door number 2 happens, the “Eeww factor” will become a reality. I have really glossed over a lot that has happened. If I was to write about every single thing, this post would easily reach over 5K word count! Easily!
Where to Watch
As I said, this jewel of a drama is not being subbed. The reason I watch this one is it’s very entertaining and we have some very well put together recaps to read on soompi that efficiently “fill in the blanks” for us some-times understanding Korean drama watchers. I’ve vowed to my friend and fellow daily drama watcher, Nelly that this will be the last unsubbed drama for this year. As it is almost October, I think I can hold onto that promise. I normally watch live via a SBS streaming site or I download and watch later. Either way, this is definitely a drama that a lot of people would be talking about…if only it was being subbed.
Did I forget to mention the birth secret? More to come…