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[Review] The Magic of Im Sung Han Which Makes ‘Love’ Outmoded Yet Irresistible 

Edited by Yang Young Jun
Translated by Kim Yoo Hyang

Screenwriter Im Sung Han has returned. One cannot help but be hugely interested in the writer’s next work, as she returned from five years of putting her pen down after creating masterpieces such as The Apgujeong Midnight SunPrincess Aurora, and Miss Mermaid. Let’s have a look at what kind of twists and turns Im Sung Han’s new work Love: Marriage & Divorce has, as she paved the way for ‘Makjang dramas’ along with Kim Soon Ok and Moon Young Nam. (Translator’s Note: ‘Makjang’ refers to stories or plotlines which are extreme, unrealistic, ridiculous, or aloof. This usually includes plot twists such as birth/family secrets, acts of revenge, terminal illnesses, or deaths.)

Boo Hye Ryoung, Sa Pi Young, Lee Si Eun are each in their 30s, 40s, and 50s respectively, and are co-workers at the same radio station. The three are not only successful in their careers each as a radio DJ, a producer, and a writer but they also strongly believe that their families are happier than anyone else’s. 

However, their husbands Pan Sa Hyun, Shin Yoo Shin, and Park Hye Ryoon are all involved in extramarital affairs, or something like it. Sa Hyun’s extramarital partner is pregnant and Yoo Shin keeps spending time alone with his stepmother – Dong Mi, who is not much older than him – after his father’s sudden death. Hye Ryoon suddenly asks Si Eun who devoted herself to the family for decades for a divorce saying, “How can you love only one person for a lifetime?” The lives of the three main characters, which were considered happy, slowly begin to fall apart.

The first half of the drama (until the eighth episode) focuses on how the main characters struggle with their husbands’ affairs. The plot makes the viewers feel sorry about the three people who learn the secrets of their husbands, and at the same time curse them out for their audacious acts. Furthermore, the show gets exciting as it is not revealed who those other than Yoo Shin are having affairs with, making it dramatic like the ‘Who’s The Husband’ of the Reply series.

The problem is that you can feel a significant sense of Déjà vu within the work. The way the main characters deal with affairs is not much different from the existing works, and at times the plot develops so slowly that you feel bored. Of course, the works of Im Sung Han tend to be progressed calmly. It’s like a food that gives you a subtle and different kind of spiciness instead of a spiciness which makes you lose your mind as soon as you take a bit. However, Love: Marriage & Divorce feels a lot more detached than the writer’s previous works. Especially as there have been many dramas that depict the subject of affairs in much more provocative ways, this does not come as shocking as before.

Credit: TV CHOSUN

This work provides stimulus and shock from the relationship between the characters instead of from the subject of ‘affair’ itself. Such of Yoo Shin and Dong Mi can be exemplified. While Dong Mi was considered to be dedicated, she shows a relieved look while ignoring her husband Ki Rim, who has a heart attack in the movie theater. It also turns out that the reason for her marriage was actually for the son. Yoo Shin also calls Dong Mi “Mrs. Kim” instead of ‘mother’ as he enjoys a date with her at the amusement park, which is usually considered a couple’s date place.

In addition, it is difficult to sympathize with Sa Hyun’s father Mun Ho who got his dog’s name from his first love Dong Mi and treats it more affectionately than his wife, or Hye Ryoung who gets interested in her boss despite being so stressed out at Sa Hyun’s affair that she threw up blood. As relationships that are difficult to understand are continued, viewers get tired instead of enjoying the show. However, this is undeniably something that is based on people’s taste in dramas. 

Credit: TV CHOSUN

Though it has already reached 10 episodes, Love is yet to unravel many more stories. While Song Won, Ah Mi, and Nam Ga Bin were expected to be the husbands’ extramarital partners, they were found to have had a past relationship with them in the 9th and 10th episodes. Furthermore, there are more pieces and puzzles to be found, including those about the existence of Yoo Shin’s twin brother. The theme of this work which is “How much happiness does God allow humans?” also seems to only be a fantasy at this point. The final evaluation for this work is likely to depend on how the plot is unraveled in the remaining six episodes. 

Verdict: I say bad things about the show yet cannot stop watching it. The skills of the ‘makjang expert’ are everlasting. (5/10)

Editor Yang Young Jun: There is at least one good part in every movie or TV series. A media geek who isn’t picky with genres.

What do you think?