04 September 2023

K Drama Review: The World of the Married (2020) 4 || 4.4

I know we're 3 years late into The World of the Married party. But, better late than never. And thanks to Oppa missing Han So Hee, we finally watched this one. We honestly thought it took us longer than usual to finish this. But checking our last review, it didn't seem that long after all. 

This drama did live up to the hype (at the start at least). It was gripping. I finally understand why people stuck with it despite the lengthy episodes. Why people were so invested on it. And why the show made their (women, mostly) blood pressures shoot up. But because of how tense most episodes were, breaks in between are definitely recommended. It's quite too heavy to watch it continuously. And obviously not a marathon watch type of show. And while the show was not really able to sustain that intensity until the end, it did its best and it did enough to keep us hooked.


The World of the Married tells the story of Dr. Ji Seon U (Kim Hee Ae), an accomplished doctor and hospital assistant director, married to an aspiring movie producer/director, Lee Tae Oh (Park Hae Joon). The Gosan-based couple have a son, middle schooler Jun Yeong (Jeon Jin Seo of Mr. Sunshine and My Love from the Star). Everything seems perfect in the family with husband and wife appearing to be passionately in love with each other. Things go crazy, however, when Dr. Ji finds out that her husband is having an affair with a young woman, Yeo Da Kyung (Han So Hee), who happens to be the daughter of Dr. Ji's patient, Uhm Hyo Jung (Kim Sun Kyung of Suits), and an influential businessman in Gosan, Chairman Yeo Byung Gyu (Lee Geung Young of Vincenzo, Vagabond, and Misaeng). What's worse is that everyone around them (friends and family included) seem to know about Tae Oh's affair, except Dr. Ji. The drama takes us through how Dr. Ji navigates through her marriage that is on the verge of breaking apart, how she plots her revenge, and how she finally realizes what truly matters most to her. 

Kim Hee Ae as Dr. Ji Seon U

It's our first time watching Kim Hee Ae. And right from the start, we became fans of her acting. She is such an awesome actress. She was perfect as the elegant and poised Dr. Ji who tried her best to keep things together even if her world was slowly crumbling down. 

I loved Dr. Ji's confidence in everything she did. She never allowed anyone to treat her poorly just because she was a woman or a divorcee. 

Kim Hee Ae's brilliance was really evident in her confrontation scenes. She remained chill, calm, and collected despite heated conversations with Da Kyung, Tae Oh, Tae Oh's mom, Da Kyung's parents, her supposed friend/colleague Myung Suk (Chae Gook Hee), or her patient's abuser boyfriend, Park In Gyu (Lee Hak Joo of My Name). My favorite would probably be that dinner at Da Kyung's family home where Dr. Ji revealed to Da Kyung's parents that their daughter was having an affair with her husband and that she was pregnant. 

And what was even more amazing was how Dr. Ji would transform into someone totally different once she was alone - you could see her so drained and exhausted. I loved how powerful that scene was towards the end when she was rescued from drowning in the beach. Her tears, her face, everything conveyed the pain she's been battling with the entire time. 

If there's one thing that this show has given me, it's the discovery of such a talented actress as Kim Hee Ae. 

Park Hae Joon as Lee Tae Oh

I usually have nothing nice to say about evil characters. But I will make an exception here. Yes, I still hate Tae Oh but at least the show had the sense of getting someone good looking and a great actor like Park Hae Joon. Yes, I'm comparing this with the very similar drama Show Window, where there was nothing good to say about the cheating husband. 

Park Hae Joon really impressed us with his versatility in this show. We've seen him as a meek monk in My Mister, a hard worker in Misaeng, and in his movies 20th Century Girl and Tune in for Love. It was nice to see him play a totally different role this time. 

Yes, Tae Oh's handsome enough so it's credible that two women can go crazy over him. His arrogance is extremely annoying. But you can't help but feel bad for him too when he acts all pitiful and pathetic. And despite all the hatred I felt for him throughout the show, in the end, I liked how Tae Oh's character developed.  

Han So Hee as Yeo Da Kyung

Yes, Han So Hee is pretty as ever. And she looks even fresher here. And knowing that this is the oldest Han So Hee drama that we've watched, it's great to know that she just got better and better in Soundtrack #1, My Name, and Nevertheless

The great thing about Han So Hee here is that despite being a way more junior actress than Kim Hee Ae, she was able to match up to the senior actress' intensity and depth. It was always a thrill to watch them battle it out because they were both so good. 

Dr. Ji and Hyun Seo

Let me talk about some notable characters. 

Dr. Ji's relationship with her battered patient Hyun Seo (Shim Eun Woo) was really an odd one for me. It felt weird that a doctor would openly discuss her husband's affair with a patient she was not even in good terms with. And what's even more shocking was how Dr. Ji bribed Hyun Seo with a prescription for sleeping pills to get her to tail Tae Oh. Surely that was not ethical. 

But as the show progressed, I learned to appreciate their relationship. They were each other's saviors. Hyun Seo saved Dr. Ji from Tae Oh. And Dr. Ji saved Hyun Seo from her abusive boyfriend and from her erroneous mentality that she was the only person In Gyu could rely on so she could not leave him. 

I loved their supposed closure at the train station and I wish their relationship ended there. They felt like mother and daughter. Unfortunately, they had a falling out too. Although that might have been necessary for them to finally let go of the pain that each person reminded them of. 

Ye Rim and Je Hyuk

Ye Rim (Park Sun Young) and Je Hyuk's (Kim Young Min of Our BluesCrash Landing on You, and My Mister) story seemed unimportant in the beginning but they proved to be essential to the story. We can even say that theirs was a secondary storyline. 

It was crazy how long these two went on to pretend that things will be okay. The first cycle of pretentiousness was so exhausting, it was evident that someone was bound to get tired of it. 

I was happy when Ye Rim finally decided to divorce Je Hyuk. Yes, Tae Oh might have orchestrated things to make Je Hyuk cheat again. But that doesn't change the fact that he's a serial cheater. I liked how sensible Ye Rim was when she told Dr. Ji that it's not always about winning. And there's nothing wrong with giving up and letting go. 

And while I was momentarily thrilled that Ye Rim seemed to be giving Je Hyuk a second chance, I liked how she bravely admitted that in reality, it was going to be very difficult for her to forgive her husband. She will always doubt him. She will always be agitated. And I loved that moment when she courageously decided to break free him and chose to live her best life.  


After watching the show, I can say that it has your usual cheating drama elements. But The World of the Married made sure to insert interesting plot twists that won't make it seem like a copycat of all the other cheating dramas out there. 

As always, it's the openly sweet and affectionate husband who cheats. And while things seemed rosy for the couple, their incompatibility was pretty evident from the start. I don't know how someone as organized and tidy as Dr. Ji could endure living with a slob like Tae Oh. And again, we find ourselves a guy with a more accomplished wife who can't put his pride aside and who mistakes his wife's help as putting him on a short leash. 

Then the show drops its first bomb on us - everyone's aware of and complicit in Tae Oh's extramarital affair. It was so painful because her colleague and friend Myung Suk knew and lied to her, their neighbors Ye Rim and Je Hyuk went out on trips with Tae Oh and Da Kyung, and even Tae Oh's mom kept it from Dr. Ji. 

It was nice to see unexpected people on Dr. Ji's side - her battered patient Hyun Seo  who tailed Tae Oh for her; her OCD patient Dong Sik (Kim Jong Tae of Forecasting Love and Weather, One Spring Night, Encounter and Something in the Rain) who gave her the video where Tae Oh and Da Kyung were caught kissing; Dr. Ma (Park Choong Sun of Start Up and She Was Pretty) whose words of wisdom comforted her even if she was the one who terminated him earlier; Dr. Kim (Lee Moo Saeng of The Glory 1 and 2, Cleaning Up, Thirty-Nine, The Silent Sea, One Spring Night, Something in the Rain, and Prison Playbook) who helped her face her demons especially with regard to her PTSD; and the hospital chairman's wife (Seo Yi Sook of Start Up, Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol, and Hotel Del Luna) who despite being brutally frank with Dr. Ji and whose husband's infidelity Dr. Ji revealed, was actually her silent ally. 

Leading up to Dr. Ji revealing that she was aware of the affair, I loved how she made everyone around her anxious. Her veiled threats to Tae Oh about facing the consequences of having fun. Or how she roughly handled (but still professionally) Da Kyung when she went to her for a check up. 

The drama highlighted some evil consequences of infidelity and the problematic way we often deal with it as a society. 

First would be victim blaming. I cannot understand why everyone was on Tae Oh's side and why everyone made it appear that it was Dr. Ji's fault. When Dr. Ji first asked Tae Oh if he was having an affair, he should have come out clean. But apart from lying, he did an even worse thing by gaslighting Dr. Ji to make her appear delusional because of stress. 

Then you have Tae Oh's mom who blamed the affair on Dr. Ji for being too perfect and not leaving any breathing room for her son. I don't see why it's bad/stifling for women to desire having a good family, with everything in order. That really, really angered me because it came from a woman who also left her cheating husband. I tried to sympathize with the mom, after all, she might just be protecting her son. But after knowing everything that Dr. Ji has done for her like paying for all of her medical expenses, I just could not forgive her. She should have been on her knees begging Dr. Ji to take her son back. 

Yes, Dr. Ji had her flaws. But to say that it was her fault that Tae Oh cheated was just awful. If things were so bad and unbearable for Tae Oh, then he should have settled things with Dr. Ji first before he hooked up with someone else. It was terrible that people were making her appear unhinged when it was Tae Oh who pushed her to be that way.

Second bad effect of infidelity is the risk of having unwanted children, which then leads to abortion. Yes, abortion should be a woman's choice. But that problem should not have been there in the first place if nobody cheated. 

And of course, we get the negative effects of divorce. How hard it is on kids, the way it pushed Jun Yeong to be violent and to steal stuff from his classmates so they'll feel what it's like to lose something precious to them. And the stigma on divorcees, which seem one-sided on women's part. How difficult it is for women to raise their kids alone. 

When the drama was only showing marital infidelity, I was thinking that there was probably hope for the couple and Dr. Ji might still be able to forgive Tae Oh. But when financial cheating was involved, I knew there was no turning back. Taking their family's money for his pleasures was totally unacceptable. 

And how pathetic it was of Tae Oh to weakly claim that his heart beats for two women. This just highlighted how selfish and greedy he was. 

I was not so happy with Dr. Ji getting involved with Je Hyuk just to get incriminating information on Tae Oh. I'm sure there was some other way to do that. But I guess she was desperate to end it all, knowing that her son was aware of the affair. 

The show was really an expert in executing highly-charged moments. These were all so tense and guaranteed to give you hypertension. Like that accidental dinner between Dr. Ji and Da Kyung's family where Dr. Ji was being nosy about Da Kyung's love life. Then of course that highlight reveal of the affair done by Dr. Ji in Da Kyung's family home - from breaking an expensive vase to say that we should not touch what's not ours, to revealing that Chairman Yeo invested in Tae Oh's business, to outing the affair and Da Kyung's pregnancy, and telling Tae Oh that she slept with Je Hyuk, how he should now know how betrayal feels, and that she cannot see his son again because she was divorcing him. Everything was so neatly woven together. 

Unfortunately, things went a bit downhill after that scene. I didn't like how Dr. Ji endangered her son's life as they were trying to run away from Tae Oh, the way she wrestled with Jun Yeong to get his phone while she was driving. 

And it didn't help that Jun Yeong was not that understanding. He knew his dad cheated. Yes, he was young but I was hoping he understood his mom more. While it's true that his dad was there for him more and that dad didn't betray him, it was quite evident that mom had to work hard as the family's breadwinner. I guess that's the painful reality that working parents have to face. Kids value the time you spend with them and they can't see that you juggle so many things managing the family, raising kids, working, ignoring yourself and your needs. You do so much, you miss out on a lot of things, yet you're still the villain and the ignorant parent in the end. I liked how Jun Yeong sought help from Dr. Kim, although I'm not sure if it was legal to counsel a minor without his parent's consent. 

Another interesting plot twist was how Dr. Ji finally got rid of Tae Oh (temporarily at least). How she sacrificed her body and provoked Tae Oh, with the latter thinking that she killed Jun Yeong. Yes, that was quite sinister. But that only goes to show the lengths that moms would go to to keep their children. 

I absolutely loathed Tae Oh and Da Kyung's comeback. Because who would want to see a cheater succeed and glorified?

Good thing, Tae Oh was still as stupid as ever. How could he team up with In Gyu? Did he seriously think he can trust an extortionist who already blackmailed Dr. Ji in the past? Didn't he think In Gyu could do the same to him too? 

But I still hated how Tae Oh was a total jerk. He invited Jun Yeong to his housewarming party. He provoked his ex-wife to go to his house. (And that creepy realization when Dr. Ji saw that the new house and Da Kyung's clothes were similar to hers.) He stalked Dr. Ji and wanted to have her removed from the hospital. He paid someone to scare and attack Dr. Ji. But I guess these things are further proof of how stupid Tae Oh is. He doesn't realize how much worse his karma will be this time around. 

And just like when she first found out about the affair, it was puzzling how everyone seemed to be on Tae Oh's side again, with no one left to help Dr. Ji. Dr. Kim's motives were now suspect. Jun Yeong was again lacking in compassion for his mom despite knowing what she went through. Myung Suk was still a Tae Oh lackey. (Although I appreciated how she stood up against the hospital director for being sexist.) And even Chairman Yeo had to be involved. 

I really just wanted Dr. Ji to leave that toxic environment. No shame in doing that especially if it was for her welfare. But then again, we can't give stupid Tae Oh what he wants so easily. And fortunately, Hyun Seo, the hospital chairman's wife, and Dr. Ma were there to rescue Dr. Ji once again. 

With In Gyu's murder, things felt a bit stretched and convoluted. I sort of wished the show ended with the divorce. It was beginning to be too Show Window-ish (although the latter was released later). It was turning into a mystery thriller already. 

And while I was not happy with how Dr. Ji volunteered to be Tae Oh's alibi (which eventually led to her falling out with Hyun Seo), I get why she did it. She had to protect Jun Yeong. 

The latter part of the show made me realize that next to Tae Oh, Da Kyung was probably the next ultimate villain. As a mother, I could not understand how she could orchestrate the plan of Jun Yeong leaving his mom. That was downright despicable. The worst thing you can do to a mom is to take her child away from her. And the way she made it appear that she was the reason why Jun Yeong was not kicked out of school when he hit a classmate was just crazy. And it was terrible that she accused Jun Yeong of hitting her daughter when she had no proof at all. It was so satisfying to see her downfall - when she started seeing her husband's true colors and how he was slowly turning her into a delusional person. 

I hated that Dr. Ji and Tae Oh made that one night mistake. That just enabled Tae Oh even further. And worse, Jun Yeong saw them. The boy's right. His parents are making something already complicated, even more complicated. 

I felt bad for Dr. Ji though when Jun Yeong wanted her to leave. He was her life. I know she'd be willing to give him up if she can be assured that Tae Oh will raise him well. Unfortunately, her doubts were all confirmed and proven true when Jun Yeong came to her running for help. 

Although he was young and immature, we didn't quite like Jun Yeong's character. He was often inconsistent and unreasonable. I knew he was loved. Yes, he was from a broken home, but I'm sure Dr. Ji did her best to fill in Tae Oh's absence. I know that grown ups are problematic in the sense that we expect kids to adjust and move on as fast as we do. And how kids feel misunderstood because we don't go down to their level. But I felt that Jun Yeong's anger was extreme and misplaced in some instances. I loved how Dr. Ji never gave up on him and rescued him right away when he asked for it. For a while there, I was enjoying the more mature and stable relationship they were having. That is until Tae Oh came back again. 

It was funny how Tae Oh left Dr. Ji allegedly because she stifled him yet he married someone who was probably just as controlling (or even worse). I loved that scene when Dr. Ji brought Da Kyung to her house to make her realize what a creep Tae Oh was. It was really, really nice to see Tae Oh suffer when he saw how much he hurt the people he loved. And how he hit rock bottom twice, and in an even more humiliating fashion the second time around. And how he lost two children. 

The little scary twist in the end was interesting - the show making us think that Tae Oh killed Jun Yeong. I loved how Dr. Ji chose to take the high road by inviting Tae Oh to dinner for closure, which unfortunately led Tae Oh to believe they were going to take him back. However, I didn't quite understand Jun Yeong's reaction when his mom checked on his dad, whom they thought were hit by a truck. He was crying and startled. He obviously cared. Can't his mom do the same too? And to be gone for a year because of that? 

Despite all the confusion in (and heading into) the finale, I'm just glad that Jun Yeong went back home. And how that time apart helped Dr. Ji realize that she had to forgive herself before she can move on. It was not entirely her fault that things turned out the way they did. Understandably, separation is more complicated when children are involved because you can't totally dissociate yourself from your ex. So I guess that's the show's way of telling us that if you're unsure about your partner, don't have kids. But I guess the more important moral here is the need for spouses to learn how to redefine themselves outside of their marriages. Our marriages do not define us.  We are so much more than that. 

So yes, while the show was not able to sustain its intensity until the end, it still managed to give us something entertaining. 

Oppa says...4.

Noona says...4.4.