Edited by Kim Won Hee
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
When The Glory villain Ji Yeon meets Kim Tae Hee, gracing the screen after a two-year hiatus, the ensuing drama is nothing short of explosive. They’ve come together for the series Lies Hidden in My Garden, where two women, previously strangers, are thrown together by their husbands’ entangled fates. The intrigue is heightened by Director Jung Ji Hyun, known for her aesthetically captivating productions like Search: WWW and Twenty-Five Twenty-One.
Kim Tae Hee’s character, Moon Joo Ran, appears to lead a picture-perfect life. Living in a grand house with a sprawling garden alongside her loving husband Park Jae Ho (Kim Sung Oh), a doctor, and their academically outstanding son, she seems to have it all. This picture-perfect life starts to crumble when Joo Ran smells something foul in her garden, a scent eerily reminiscent of a decaying corpse – a traumatic memory from her past that involves her dead sister. The reaction of her hitherto loving husband, dismissing and gaslighting her worries as mere figments of her imagination, only adds to her confusion and unrest.
Lim Ji Yeon’s character, Choo Sang Eun, faces an entirely different struggle. Pregnant and enduring her verbally and physically abusive husband, Kim Yoon Bum (Choi Jae Rim), she endures a grueling existence. While looking for her way out of this hell, she stumbles upon Yoon Bum’s scheme to extort Jae Ho. Following the two men’s fishing trip together, her husband is found dead. When Sang Eun points to Jae Ho as the murder suspect, her life starts to directly entangle with Joo Ran and Jae Ho couple.
Lies Hidden in My Garden has consistently seen a rise in viewership across the first four episodes, even securing the top spot in Netflix Korea’s TV category. One of its key allures lies in its finely honed thriller aspect. The narrative deftly switches between Joo Ran’s traumatized instability and Jae Ho’s manipulative gaslighting of his wife to make her think she doesn’t remember her deeds, casting a web of confusion and tension over the viewers.
Juxtaposed against the ostensibly perfect household of Joo Ran is Sang Eun’s home, a place of relentless abuse. Especially the scene where Sang Eun finds and hides the phone that ties her to Jae Ho provokes bated breaths. The tension morphs into a different beast after the death of her abuser Yoon Bum; with Sang Eun learning of her husband’s secret debts, failed investments, and lawsuits.
Having driven to the edge, Sang Eun echoes her late husband’s moves and blackmails Jae Ho, infusing a fresh wave of suspense into the narrative. The drama’s merit rests in its pacing as it artfully weaves intricate storylines within the first four episodes, without any perceivable slackening.
The allure of the thriller genre certainly contributes to its popularity, but the true driving force behind the show’s success is the exceptional performances of the lead actors. Lim Ji Yeon erases any traces of her villainous character in The Glory, bringing forth a compelling character arc for Sang Eun. Starting as a despondent, lifeless woman beside Yoon Bum, she progressively ignites a will to live following his death. Particularly, the scene where Sang Eun devours her meal, a scene that previously set the internet ablaze, vividly depicts her psychological shift. The strength of the acting is remarkable, vividly painting the picture of Sang Eun, an expectant mother who barely managed to eat due to her violent husband, exploding her suppressed hunger and vicariously consuming jajangmyeon after his death. Also, the poignant sight of her tearfully chewing an apple after making a choice that mirrors her dead husband’s resonates powerfully.
Kim Tae Hee, too, delivers a commendable performance. Her portrayal of Joo Ran’s journey from a fragile porcelain doll, shattered by trauma to a woman determined to confront the truth is solid and assured.
As the drama heads towards its mid-season, the secrets of the buried body in the garden and Jae Ho’s hidden truths begin to surface. With Joo Ran and Sang Eun teaming up to unravel the truth, albeit with different motivations, one can’t help but wonder where their alliance will lead. Expectations remain high for the continued unraveling of the narrative, powered by engrossing storytelling and sterling performances. (8/10)
Edited by Kim Won Hee: I am a person who needs more than 24 hours in a day because there are so many things I love. I am amassing various genres in the jewelry box in my heart.