Edited by Kim Won Hee
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
If you have to choose the hottest topic in the entertainment industry these days, most will pick The World of the Married without hesitation. Known as the remake of British series Doctor Foster, the drama has topped the viewership chart from the first episode with its shocking ending, and made headlines with every episode. Although the basic settings are similar, The World of the Married gives a strong impression as “Korean Drama” with various points that have subtly been altered.
The most striking difference is the characters’ settings. The main character, Ji Sun Woo, is portrayed as a capable and imposing figure like Gemma Foster from the original work. Still, she is also described as a type of person who is relatively well-balanced in the midst of crisis. She is also far more strategic and, if needed, explodes her accumulated emotions intensely. Lee Tae Oh shows a much clearer difference from Simon Foster in the original work. If Simon was depicted as a normal husband, the fact that he is a younger, handsome and devoted husband was added to the setting of Lee Tae Oh. After his affair and his lies were exposed dramatically, he became one of the most “disliked” characters.
Lee Tae Oh’s lover Yeo Da Kyung and Ji Sun Woo’s helper Min Hyun Seo became even more significant roles than the original work, highlighting the overall tension between the characters. As the direct confrontation scenes between Ji Sun Woo and Yeo Da Kyung have increased in number, the emotions of the characters were more clearly depicted. Now that Yeo Da Kyung’s feelings toward Lee Tae Oh are gradually changing, she slowly resembles Ji Sun Woo in the first half of the drama. Min Hyun Seo, on the other hand, realistically portrays a women exposed to domestic violence and gaslighting.
Sul Myung Sook shows the unique difference from the original work. If Ros Mahendra is usually seen torn between two friends, Sul Myung Sook adds a psychological thriller to the story by showing her double spy-like aspect. It is exceptionally refreshing to watch her choose the person who is the most beneficial to her each time and smile shamelessly.
As the volume increases and detailed features are added, some scenes that were not seen in the original work are either changed or added. For example, the scene where Ji Sun Woo imagines wielding a pair of scissors to Lee Tae Oh was added immediately after she figured out the truth about his affair, creating an intense thriller-like tension that it reminds the viewers of the film Parasite. Also, in the scene where Lee Tae Oh and Yeo Da Kyung exchange glances with Ji Sun Woo as they leave Gosan City created a completely different revengeful atmosphere, unlike the original work, where they are shown biding farewell with a smile.
After the sixth episode, the story takes a significantly different route. Ji Sun Woo, Lee Tae Oh, and Yeo Da Kyung find themselves in a situation that has turned the table. Lee Tae Oh demands Min Hyun Seo’s ex-boyfriend Park In Kyu to threaten Ji Sun Woo, while Yeo Da Kyung finds Lee Tae Oh’s second phone with the pictures that he took as he stalked Ji Sun Woo. Also, Kim Yoon Gi, a psychiatrist who played a completely different role in the original work, approaches Ji Sun Woo and presents a big twist as he turns out to be the spy. The advantage of The World of the Married is that such changes from the original work stimulate pleasant curiosity as it became impossible for the viewers to predict the upcoming story.
However, the shortcomings are as evident as the advantages. As the number of episodes has doubled, the drama gives the impression that the increased portion is filled with excessively violent scenes under the guise of it being rated R. While Kim Hee Ae and other actors show impressive performances that fascinate viewers every time, The World of the Married antagonize the appeal with its overly provocative plots and productions that it seems like what it wants is to only make headlines. Of course, I know how much it wants to maintain the concentrated attention it received in the early episodes with its shocking narrative and refreshing developments. Still, the production team needs to understand that what viewers want the most is not violent and provocative scenes, but a story in which Ji Sun Woo triumphs over the difficulties and defeats Lee Tae Oh. In the remaining episodes, I hope that the pleasure of a well-made narrative will be centered rather than a visual stimulus.
Verdict: Addictive story, but I’m a bit concerned that the drama is only seeking excessive stimulation (7.5/10)