“Thinking about it, there seems to be no definite perpetrator or victim. You know, there’s a thing called willful negligence. Even knowing that their marriage will be in danger going on like this, there are many couples that don’t put in effort.” – Bo Young
Wow, this show really means business.
It takes a serious topic and is unafraid to delve into the darkest, most provocative corners of it, evoking such deeply personal responses and reflections. When the episode ended, I just paused and contemplated over what I had observed. I even had a conversation with my wife about how we would handle it if either one of us had an affair. Many K-dramas have elicited emotional reactions from me, but none have hit so close to heart as this one.
In this episode, Hyun Woo further descends into anger, despair, loss and pain. He confronts Sun-woo three times, but it’s only in the third that he musters up the courage to punch him and take revenge by calling Sun-woo’s wife and breaking the news of his adultery to her. This is triggered by Sun-woo’s acceptance of Hyun Woo’s friend request on Facebook, allowing Hyun Woo to see the admiration he receives on Facebook for his beautiful family life. It’s not pretty at all and there’s no attempt to glorify his actions. He does this not because of any noble reason to ensure the wife is not kept in the dark. It is because he hates it that he’s the only one affected by what has happened. It’s unfair that Hyun Woo can retain his happy family whereas his is destroyed. His rage has blinded him to any form of reason; but really, what would a reasoned reaction to being cheated look like? Would a rational reaction be the right kind of reaction?
With Soo Yeon, Hyun Woo is dismissive, curt and explosive. Divorce keeps getting mentioned. He cuts her off when she tries to explain herself. He refuses to accept any of her explanations. He accuses her, calling her the aggressor and him the victim. He blasts her for destroying what they had together.
It’s not possible to say that Hyun Woo’s reactions were wrong; all that I can say is that I would not have reacted the same way as him, because of our different personalities. But I found it difficult to judge him and wonder if I might have reacted in the same way if the same thing happened to me. Having gone through marriage preparation courses and also spoken to friends who are marital counsellors, I know in my mind that divorce shouldn’t be the first option and that the couple should sit down and work things out. The right thing to do would be to exercise mercy and forgiveness, re-examine the marriage, rebuild the trust and move towards reconciliation. But in a way, Hyun Woo’s reactions aren’t wrong either. He’s angry – his wife has betrayed him after 15 years of marriage, and in doing so, also affected their child. Regardless of Soo Yeon’s reasons, her actions have been detrimental to their marriage in a major way. Whether it ultimately does destroy their marriage is a decision both of them have to make and it will be a heartbreaking, difficult journey.
We finally get a more insightful glimpse into Soo Yeon’s perspective in this episode and the most evident point is how isolated and lonely she is. Unlike Hyun Woo who has a band of brothers and a relatively close group of colleagues at work, Soo Yeon’s work environment is cold and distant. She struggles as a working mum, with pressures from both her boss and subordinates. On the home front, she’s working hard too to ensure the best for her son and has to network to negotiate a place for her son in an art class, following which she’s swamped by messages from fellow mums. While we see her perspective, the show ensures that we empathise with her, without necessarily sympathising with her. It’s clear she has done wrong, regardless of her circumstances and how she feels. Throughout the episode, she keeps insisting that this affair is something just between the two of them, but it really isn’t. She’s clearly repentant and wants to make the marriage work, but there’s no way to talk about doing so now, when Hyun Woo is so enraged. The next episode will explore the fall-out further and the show clearly isn’t allowing her to get off scot-free, making her confess the truth to Hyun Woo’s mum – something that Hyun Woo himself has not contemplated.
The show manages to balance the intensity of Hyun Woo and Soo Yeon’s storyline with the antics of Hyun Woo’s production team as well as scenes of Joon Ki’s philandering ways. I do hope the show is going somewhere with Joon Ki’s storyline as it’s getting increasingly ridiculous and no longer funny to see Ara being played around with in such a brutal, callous manner. I did not find any of the Joon Ki sequences funny at all in this episode. However, the Bo Young and Joon-Young storyline fares much better and we finally see the truth behind Joon-Young’s marriage, that his wife left him three days after they got married, which also opens a new angle on this show’s already very competent exploration of difficult issues in marriage.
It’s refreshing to see a drama take such a hard look at a difficult yet real topic in our society today, which seems to be worsening. Dramas like these are much needed and can be potentially powerful to help married couples talk through difficult issues. At this point, my personal wish is for the show to take a more hopeful, redemptive route and show us how Hyun Woo and Soo Yeon eventually work things out and redeem their marriage.