Dear gracious heavens, it’s happened again. Korean Dramas never cease to amaze me with their hidden wit and wisdom, but when it’s episode two and I’m already tearing up I know I’ve found a good one. Marriage Contract has amazed me with how it’s handled its genre: with tact, emotion and humanity. In a word, that’s what this drama represents to me: humanity. Real, down to earth living–perhaps in more extreme circumstances than normal, but honest in their thought processes and conclusions.
Now, I’ve experimented with organizing by topic or chronology, and chronology won out. These are my personal notes as I watched, from the moment in which I watched them. Things in italics are my thoughts as I pondered the notes–they came after the initial jotting.
Marriage Contract MBC official poster from: dramaskimchi
Premise: Ji-hoon is a man with nobody to turn to trying to save his mother from her failing liver. Neither his father’s family nor his mother’s is willing to help the woman who lived as a mistress, and his mother needs a new liver, fast.
Hye-soo is a young widow struggling to support her daughter and pay off her late husband’s loan-shark debt. When she discovers a cancerous tumor in her head she hits a new low, wondering how her daughter Eun-Sung will live once her mother is dead.
The two meet and strike up an unusual agreement: Hye-soo will marry Ji-hoon and donate her liver to his mother if he will pay Hye-soo enough that Eun-sung will never have to worry about money. But what happens when the pair actually falls in love? This is a story of family, love and courage in the face of death. Let’s get going!
Episode 1: What is pride? When they say you have no pride they say you are shameless. Why is that bad? Is it really? (This one inspired a post against pride, here).
Why are humans so connected to life? Why do we desire to live?
Episode 4: I know why Ji-hoon (leading man) is so adamant to save his mother. She’s already tried to leave him through death once, he will not lose her to it again. How true it is! Once we have had a personal experience with something, we fight all the more adamantly about it when it occurs in others lives. On the upside, we feel it more. On the downside, that emotion can sometimes cause us to dismiss other evidences or take a one-sided approach.
One thing I love about Marriage Contract is how consistent the characters are, even in their growth. Hye-soo has always had trouble asking for help, and it shows in the little things and the big things in her life. (Ep. 4 w/her coat, undercurrent plot of her sickness). By the same token, Ji-hoon has always been a bit rough around the edges, blunt with a lighter filter than other people (ep. 1). That doesn’t change just because he falls in love. He doesn’t magically become a new person. But he does begin to improve (basically the rest of the drama).
Ji-hoon has always worn his heart on his sleeve, like his friend said–it’s just that before, he really had nobody to care about. With his blunt (may I say artless?) personality, that came across as arrogance and distance–because it was. As soon as he honestly starts to care about other people, it shows.
Dear heavens his cheeks have dimples like the Grand Canyon. In a good way.
Marriage Contract Ep. 7 still From: kutudrama
They are such a good match! She sees the good in him, and he will take care of her. Not that she needs someone to do it because she’s somehow incapable–no! Just the opposite. She’s so hard working, she gives it all away. She won’t accept help and gives herself no slack (ep. 5). What a testament to human rights and chivalry this is–topics that don’t often agree. Ji-hoon cares for Hye-soo and so he tries to act with chivalry towards her. Hye-soo has retained all of her rights as an individual, but could do with a little acceptance of help he offers.
I love all these actors! It’s amazing how much bitter, fruitless love Ji-hoon’s mom can portray using a tube of lipstick, sitting in a hospital bed. It’s an interesting combination of pride and shamelessness in Mi-ran (Ji-hoon’s mother). She wishes so blatantly to live and doesn’t care who knows she loved the chairman–but she doesn’t want him to see her without her makeup on. Perhaps that’s just love. But after so long I feel the love must have waned, and pride begins to play a part in it as well.
Episode 6: Mom (Hye-soo) is going to turn out the light. Double Entente. Ouch. Too soon.
Ji-hoon avoids touching Hye-Soo. It’s like he knows himself well enough to know he can’t always be trusted. I like that about him. As I watched the show more, I realized Ji-hoon is a very physical character. Expressing love through a hug or kiss or holding her hand is much easier than saying anything. And for him to know that about himself, and that he needs to keep it in check when he isn’t certain the feelings are reciprocated, is impressive.
I freaking love Ji-hoon. He’s so freaking adorable. He cooked for her. He’s… he’s… I can’t even.
Episode 7: Ji-hoon: “I’m low, but I’m trying not to be that low.” Aw, you recognize it! Consciously, too! Recognizing there’s something about you that’s wrong is the first step. Telling someone about it is the next. Then, fixing past damage and trying your best not to return to those behaviors completes the changing process. Rinse and repeat as necessary, however many times needed. It’s like the repentance process in action.
I’m only covering up to episode 7 this time, as I had too many thoughts to shove into one post. Thanks for reading, and I’ll post again tomorrow!
Marriage Contract still ep. 7 From: Dramabeans