The World of the Married Special (Part 1 & 2)


This is the first time I’ve actually watched an entire “Special” for a series, which shows how much I loved the series, but also how interesting this special was. I usually don’t enjoy watching it as I find it’s just a chance to rehash plot points and let the cast members sing praises of each other. While there was some of it this time round too, I appreciated too how the special allowed us to gain more insights into the characters and key moments.

Part 1

Part 1 focused mainly on walking us through key moments in the series and the actors/actresses personal responses to it. For a series with so many emotional moments, walking through the entire series within an hour was a quick and effective way to relive its intensity. When watching this, I remembered how the ending of Episode 1 just blew me away, so I went to rewatch the ending again just to experience that powerful moment when Sun Woo’s world just fell apart.

It’s not an understatement to say that the actors really put their all into the series and the emotions we felt as we watched them were so powerfully felt by them even on the set. And you must realise that when acting on set, there are so many distractions like cameras in your face, lights above you, as well as no score in the background which can detract from the emotional experience. Yet, you hear Han Soo Hee sharing that her hands were trembling and she felt like vomiting when she acted that scene where Sun Woo finally reveals all.

Kim Hee Aee also shares about the scene in the hospital, where she walks into the director’s room and sees In-Kyu as well as Tae Oh there. While she knew it was already written in the script, when she opened the door to the room, she was just taken aback by the toxic energy in the room

One actress that really impressed me during this special was Shim Eun Woo. Though less experienced than most of the cast members, from her interviews, you could really see how much she had brought to her character and how invested she was.

When talking about the scene after In-Kyu dies and she warns Sun Woo not to end up as her, Eun Woo tears up uncontrollably and says, “I think I felt really sorry for Sun Woo. If Hyun Seo’s character wasn’t in the story, Sun Woo wouldn’t have reflected on herself. I don’t think she would have looked back.”. As the episode ends, she calls this drama “the last and best present I got in my 20s”.

Part 2

I felt Part 2 was a whole lot of fun as it went into the technical details of the show, like the choice of Sun Woo’s home, how characters were framed in shots, costume choices and even the choice of art pieces. Some things we learn:

  • Sun Woo’s home only has one single shut window, which highlights the secrecy of their life – you can’t look in and you can’t figure out what’s going on. The house shows the stability and instability of married life.
  • The ‘title’ scene of each episode was a “spoiler” for what happens in the episode. There’s actually an image hidden in the title from a key scene in the show. The special only talks about four episodes, but you can find out from this site what the image is for all 16 episodes.
  • I loved how they illustrated the use of windows and their frames to show the fracturing of relationships. Like in the scene below:
  • There was also a segment where they talked about outfits and how Sun Woo and Da Kyung’s dressing starts to become similar after Da Kyung gets married, to show how their feelings become similar.
  • Even the choice of art pieces was intentional, like how this Mark Rothko’s art piece that he made after his divorce is in the background as Tae Oh is violent towards Sun Woo

After going into the technical details, there’s another segment where they speak of the young actors/actresses and how well they did (which I wasn’t quite keen on) and another segment where they interviewed 4 specialists on whether Tae Oh was guilty or not – and the conclusion was 3 Guilty – 1 Not Guilty. I learnt a new term called “habit strength” and get to hear interesting psychological perspectives on Tae Oh’s behaviour, like one who shared that he has actually 4 different egos and finds it difficult to reconcile them.

And we end off with brief interviews of the cast members where they all talk about how this show will linger on in their memory for a long time. I have no doubt at all of this – it will certainly linger in mine too. A jampacked two hours where we learn more about the characters, the technical details of the film, about psychology – a definite must-watch for all ardent fans of the show.

Announcing my first webinar!

Having written over 200 blog entries on k-drama, I have decided to launch a webinar very soon titled “Unlocking the Keys to K-drama” soon.

Drawing on my two Masters (one in Literature and the other in Teaching), the webinar will cover my comprehensive approach to analysing and appreciating dramas more. The course will cover popular dramas (like Goblin and The World of the Married), but also lesser-known but well-made ones.

Spaces are limited. If you are keen to appreciate k-dramas more deeply, click here.







The World of the Married Finale


“I think it’s finally over now”, says Sun Woo to Ye Rim three weeks before the events last week. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from “The World of the Married”, it is never over and the show has shown us that there are no easy ways out. Mirroring the reality of broken marriages, the emotional impact on the couple, but most importantly on the child, will take a long time, if not forever, to heal. The show ends on a strong note with another intense, heart-rending episode and gives each character the hopeful ending they truly deserve.

Joon Young continues to yearn for a happy family

At the start of the episode, we see that while Sun Woo and Joon Young have finally settled back in Gosan after a long tussle, their hearts are still unsettled. Joon Young still yearns for that happy family life, whereas a simple phone vibration shakes Sun Woo. She looks uneasily at Joon Young until he shows her that the message is from No Eul. Nonetheless, the relationship between Joon Young and his mum has definitely improved and they tease each other and have found community with Ye Rim, Ja Hyuk, Myung Sook and Yoon-ki. They go out for dinner with them, and she invites them over for dinner. Joon Young is happy and has a love interest – it looks like life is starting to take off again for him.

On the Tae-Oh front, he has been stalking Sun Woo and Joon Young. Sun Woo is definitely uneasy and her suspicions are confirmed when she receives a torn wedding photograph that is taped up.

Joon Young sees it too and tells her to ignore it, not to take matters into her own hands and to call the cops immediately. No action is taken though, which leads us to Joon Young’s disappearance that ended off last week’s episode. Sun Woo calls Tae-Oh continually after Joon Young disappears and he finally replies, apologising to her and saying that he wanted was to be with Joon Young.

Sun Woo rushes over to meet him and Joon Young at a deserted river bank. There, we see him that Tae Oh ultimately meant no harm, and all he is doing is to tell Joon Young about how his dad abandoned him when he was young and how he did not want to abandon Joon Young. Once Sun Woo arrives, Joon Young runs over to her and they are almost going to leave, but Sun Woo’s heart softens and she offers to go to a meal together with Tae-Oh and Joon Young – which shocks Joon Young completely. The whole sequence of Tae Oh walking slowly to the car, Sun Woo entering the car and Joon Young in the car is one of the most powerful scenes in the show – though no words are exchanged, the turmoil, pain, uncertainty and struggle within our three characters are so clearly conveyed.

Sun Woo still wants to give Tae-Oh a chance to make amends and apologise when she sees him all broken. However, when he starts talking about how he has forgiven her and she should now forgive him, she knows there’s no point and that he is truly hopeless. After a futile conversation at the restaurant, they walk out and just before parting, Tae Oh apologises to Joon Young, but Joon Young is unconvinced and walks off with Sun Woo.

Just as they are going to enter the car, they see a lorry coming and Tae Oh runs in front of it. Sun Woo instinctively runs over to see what happened and realises Tae Oh is safe. She brings him out and he kneels down, hugging her. Joon Young sees this and it is too much for him to take, so he runs off.

Fast forward to a year later, we see that he has gone to Runaway Children’s Counselling Centre and they are working to reunite him with her. Tae Oh has picked himself up – he’s not successful yet, but he’s making attempts to get employed. Sun Woo has not found anyone new, but she has been processing. She’s not doing well, but not doing poorly either – enduring each day, not allowing the pain to overwhelm her. We get hints that she may finally decide to forgive herself when she meets her past patient and sees he does well. She looks at Yoon Ki – perhaps wondering if she should give it a shot with him, and give herself a shot at happiness.

“Setting aside my arrogance, of thinking that I set the rules, judge and take responsibility, is probably the best that I can do,” she says after she reads the letter from the Counselling Centre. After fighting for so long, she decides to sit back and do nothing. Not just for Joon Young, but also with Tae Oh – we only see brief messages exchanged about Joon Young, nothing more. There’s a sense that she has also gradually moved on from the divorce. The series ends with the door opening – Joon Young has returned – and she walks to him, ready to receive him and a new beginning for both of them.

Speaking of new beginnings, we also have Ye Rim, who finally decides to let go of Je-Hyuk. Although they have many happy moments at the start, she is still unable to let go of his past betrayals and hurts, no matter how hard she tries to forgive him. In a heartbreaking exchange, she lets him know how she feels and that he may forever have to live such a tormenting life. They have decided to part ways and Ye Rim has started her own cafe, with no regrets at all. Da-Kyung starts to pursue her dream, but the pain of relationship lingers as she walks off from a guy who shows interest in her.

“The World of the Married” ends on a very satisfying note for all our characters. There’s no ‘happy ever after’ even after all the battles have been fought. The pain still lingers, but the best we can do for ourselves is to forgive ourselves and to not let the pain dominate each day.

For the finale, the show has once again broken the ratings records for a cable drama and it’s not hard to see why. This has truly been a very enjoyable and meaningful drama – well-paced, extremely well-acted and complex in its characterisation. Kudos to the entire team behind the drama for an excellent production.

Upcoming K-Drama Analysis Webinar [update on 23 May 2020]

Analysing k-drama has helped me realise how much work goes into these shows and appreciate them so much more. Having blogged on k-drama for a few years, I would like to share my approach on how to analyse k-dramas so as to enjoy them so much more.

I will be launching a webinar very shortly titled “Unlocking the Keys to K-drama” soon. The webinar will cover my Genre, Characterisation, Technical Details approachusing dramas like Healer, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Legend of the Blue Sea, Goblin, Hotel Del Luna and The World of the Married. If you are interested to sign up, please indicate your interest by clicking this link and you will be placed on a mailing list to be notified once the webinar is up. Spaces will be limited since it is my first run. Thank you!

The World of the Married Episode 15


There’s no such thing as a filler episode in this series and even in its penultimate episode, emotions between Sun Woo and Tae-Oh continue to heat up.

I honestly thought that we were going to focus more on Tae-Oh and his redemption journey in this episode, after he berates himself at the start of the episode, realising that so many people are hurting because of him. It almost seems like he will get away with what he has done, given that Da-Kyung says after he confesses to sleeping with Sun Woo that she wants to be a bigger person and not let this ruin her life – like it did with Sun Woo.

However, in line with the source material “Dr Foster”, it’s too early for a happy ending and to be honest, Tae-Oh definitely does not deserve it. Rather than acknowledging his own wrongdoing and reflecting on his actions, he goes to find Sun Woo and asks her if she told Da-Kyung the truth to get back at him. The fact that he asks that already shows he is unrepentant. In an intense exchange of words, both of them threaten each other again to destroy each other’s lives. Tae-Oh loses his cool completely and is violent towards her, gripping her tightly.

Unfazed by his threats, Sun Woo, who knows that she has been spied on all this while, decides to go to speak to Da Kyung’s mother and father, delivering a lethal blow to Tae-Oh already. Da Kyung’s world continues to fall apart as she bumps into Ye Rim when she comes with a housing agent to view Sun Woo’s house.

Ye Rim tells Da Kyung that Tae-Oh will never get over Sun Woo and that she will just be a substitute for Sun Woo. At this point, Sun Woo and Joon Young have already left Gosan, with no concrete plans on where to go next. However, Da Kyung, clearly insecure, calls Sun Woo and arranges to meet her, telling her that she will get Tae-Oh to sign over parental rights to her, so that the two of them would no longer have any other reason to meet. She threatens to sue Sun Woo for adultery.

This is when Sun Woo decides that Da Kyung needs to know the full truth about their relationship and what’s been going on. Unlike Sun Woo who had to dig out the truth for herself at the start of the series, Da Kyung gets it all laid out to her by Sun Woo.

Sun Woo reveals to her that Tae-Oh used the same proposal song for them and even bought Da Kyung the same perfume, the same underwear and clothes. She was nothing but a replacement for Sun Woo. Why does she reveal all this to Da Kyung? Is it purely just to destroy Tae-Oh completely? Clearly not – here, she is speaking to Da Kyung as someone who has gone through what she has, and someone who deserves to escape while she still can. This pushes Da Kyung and her parents to decide to leave Gosan once again and we see Tae Oh’s world completely crumble away as his corporate credit cards are rejected and he is thrown out of both his office and his home.

Sun Woo is there to witness all that happens, but it is evident that she too cannot let go of Tae Oh. After she drives away, she is prompted by Joon Young’s question of whether she has settled things with dad to go back to him and give him some money to find a motel and find a new job. Of course, he is completely angry and pins all the blame on her again. Realising that he still does not see his own wrongdoings, Sun Woo decides to leave and she almost runs him down with her car, but turns to his side and drives off.

As the episode comes to an end, we see that Sun Woo has decided to head back to Gosan and reside at the exact same home – I wonder why though? Wouldn’t she have at least made an attempt to stay elsewhere, at least so that Tae Oh would not pester them? Of course, this does not bode well and the episode ends with Joon Young disappearing from the house and a note left by Tae-Oh that he has taken him.

Once again, this is an intense, tightly-plotted episode with little room to breathe throughout as we move from one emotional scene to the next. “Doctor Foster”, the inspiration for this series, ended on a very uncertain note that left many viewers unsatisfied. I’m hoping that the finale of “The World of the Married” gives us emotional closure and a happy ending at least for Sun Woo and Joon Young, who have been through so much. Tae Oh does not deserve a happy ending unless he finally realises all that he has done wrong and stops putting the blame on others.

On the flipside, I believe Ja Hyuk has worked hard and done enough to redeem himself. The way he handled Ye Rim’s rejection of his kiss showed so much respect and regard for her that showed he was truly repentant of his past wrongdoings. Ye Rim is not obliged to forgive him and she did do the right thing to turn him down when she is not ready. I would be glad if the both of them just continued to date and work on the relationship.

“The World of the Married” has remained consistently strong across its run, delivering intensely paced and emotionally deep episodes throughout. It certainly brings home the point that marriage brings two lives together so tightly, that when things fall apart, the best thing to do is to take steps – no matter how small they are, or how long they take – to mend it back again.

The World of the Married Episode 14


“The World of the Married” once again delivers an excellent episode with tight plotting, tense conflicts and powerful emotions. As a whole, this show has done so well in plotting the individual episodes while also building up the big pieces. As we move towards the final two episodes, we can see the storylines being tied up not in a neat bow, but in a gradual and meaningful way.

This episode sees Sun Woo sinking to her deepest as she has completely lost all fighting spirit. Having fought so many battles and won, she sees that at the end of it all, all that she has lost all she wanted to hold on to – her marriage, her job and her son. Joon Young’s hatred towards her cuts her the deepest and after a mistake at work, she decides to quit and leave Gosan to find her friend at the beach hospital. She is in so much pain that she is unconvinced that time will heal any of her wounds and pain. She decides to take her life, but is saved in the nick of time by Yoon-Ki.

While all this is happening, Tae Oh is similarly in emotional turmoil. Although he has achieved his revenge upon Sun Woo, he feels empty and worried for her. Da Kyung further attempts to assert control over Tae Oh and Joon Young by sending Joon Young to counselling. Tae Oh concedes even though he does not agree, yet he keeps trying to call Sun Woo and asks Joon Young if his mum has called. Not knowing where she is drives him crazy. While at the hospital and chatting with Myung-Sook, they see Yoon-Ki running off to save Sun Woo. He also speeds off to save her, but arrives only to see Sun Woo crying in the arms of Yoon-Ki. He returns to his mansion and breaks down before a dinner with Chairman Cha’s family.

All seems calm during the dinner with Chairman Cha’s family, but it is clear that Tae Oh’s mind is distracted. As the adults mingle after dinner, Jenny’s cries are heard. Da Kyung goes up, sees Joon Young playing with Jenny and her insecurities flare up and she over-reacts. Emotions snowball, leading to Tae Oh giving Joon Young a slap for speaking back to Da Kyung.

Sun Woo wakes up in the hospital as she hears Joon Young calling him. He’s not there though, so she immediately tries to call him back. Eventually he picks up and asks her to come and get him. Of course, she runs off to get him, which leads to a dramatic showdown between her and Da Kyung, where she reveals that she slept with Tae Oh. The next episode will clearly deal with the fall out of this.

Kim Hee-Ae once again delivers an outstanding performance – her breakdown is heartbreaking and painful to watch; similarly, her reclaiming of her son is victorious and rewarding. In fact, not just her, but also Park Hae Joon and Han So-Hee also carry their roles very well, bringing out the conflicted feelings they feel. I was particularly impressed by Han So-Hee and how she was able to portray the insecurities and vulnerability beneath the strong front she was portraying.

In the midst of all the strife and pain, there’s a spark of joy as we see Ye Rim and Ja Hyuk’s sweet and heartfelt interactions that do not feel contrived in anyway. The earlier episodes of the series were dark with hardly any humour or joy, but as the show moves, we at least get hints of happiness as we see Ja Hyuk making a genuine attempt to build a relationship with Ye Rim.

“The World of the Married” has remained consistently strong throughout its run, growing from strength to strength. I’m looking forward to how it ends next week. I’m certain that we will end on a positive note for Sun Woo and Joon Young. However, what that positive ending entails is still uncertain – is it a reunion with Tae Oh? Or will she end up with Yoon-Ki? I’m happy with either ending, but certainly Tae Oh has a long journey towards redemption.