One of the most talked about dramas of 2020 in South Korea has got to be “The World Of The Married,” the hit JTBC drama has recently passed the 20% in ratings making it the second highest viewed cable drama, and the most impressive thing is that its only half-way through its run. There are eight more episodes left in the series.
If you read my blog in the past month, then you’ve probably already seen me praise “The World Of The Married.” Since I usually do half-way reviews of kdramas, I had to do one of “The World Of The Married” but for this one it’ll be a bit more special, a lot of people are singing praise for this drama so I decided to focus on the characters and dive deeply into what makes “The World Of The Married” a train-wreck that’s so difficult to look away from.
“The World Of The Married” is overly dramatic and has some pretty crazy moments relating to divorce and a couple falling out of love. A lot of the events that happen are unlikely to occur in such sequence in real life but it mirrors a lot of what we deal with.
It doesn’t matter if you’re married or not, you probably felt upset and furious watching “The World Of The Married.” The characters are very difficult to like but you can’t look away from them. You keep coming back for more and that is the beauty of knowing how to construct unlikeable characters and make them fun to watch.
As a writer myself, I can tell you it’s pretty difficult to create a story with unlikeable characters as the main focus. We have to construct a heroine that the audience would relate to and root for. You can’t just throw unlikeable characters and expect the audience to care enough to keep coming back.
But when its done right, its beautiful and that’s the case with “The World Of The Married.”
Not even one single character in this drama is NICE, they all have flaws and some of them are downright sociopaths. The drama doesn’t try to make you like them but presents their struggles in a way that helps you understand their perspective.
Ji Sun Woo
I wanted to focus the most on her character; I think the way this character was written is DAMN PERFECT. Ji Sun Woo at times can be very difficult to like, and I found myself disagreeing with a lot of things she does, but a part of me can’t help but root for her.
Ji Sun Woo goes through a drastic transformation in the drama and the situations she goes through amplifies her insecurities and flaws. What was once hidden by the façade that she led a happy life is no longer present. She’s now a shell of her former self and it’s really interesting to watch.
Usually, female leads in kdramas are one of two, good or bad. The protagonist is usually unrealistically nice, perfect, has flaws that are easily overlooked, but that’s not the case with Ji Sun Woo who becomes downright manipulative and crazy to seek revenge.
The first red flag about her character was when she slept with her husband’s friend, Son Je Hyuk. However, if you’ve noticed the comments, a lot of women were actually rallying behind her praising her for having her husband taste the same shit he made her go through.
This is how well Kim Hee Ae portrayed her character that even when she does questionable immoral things, we still root for her. By no mean was the betrayal of her friends enough to make her sleep with the husband of another woman making her go through the same shit she went through. That’s not okay, and nothing will make it so but since we know the circumstances, we’re invested enough to let it slide.
The second red flag was when she had her husband almost beat her to death in front of her son to make him stay with her. That was a scary moment, knowing just how far she’ll go to have custody of her son was honestly chilling to watch.
Ji Sun Woo is not a perfect woman, she has flaws and made terrible mistakes but watching her do them and her justification behind them makes you question when to excuse her because she’s been through so much.
Ji Sun Woo is one of the rare kdrama female lead characters; I rarely see such types of characters on screen. It was so refreshing to see someone do such things, we have expectations when we watch kdramas and almost always, the female leads do the right thing regardless of how much it’ll affect them on a personal level.
Lee Tae Oh
Aside from being trash, this guy has no limits. He also suffers from what I often refer to the ‘victim mentality,’ he screws up, expects Ji Sun Woo to take it in and blames her for reacting to his terrible disgusting behavior.
The beauty about how Lee Tae Oh’s character is written is that not only he’s trash but he’s capable of doing shitty things to get back at her. The way he takes his revenge and the length he goes through is a testimony of how scary he can be.
I know we all hate him but we can’t help but watch him, at the start you can see how nice he was and how devoted he was to his family. To see him go through a drastic transformation because of his actions and his wife’s actions was pretty fun- for lack of a better word.
But he’s not completely trash; he still cares for his son- to a certain capacity. But he’s a very fun character to watch. It’s also rare in kdramas to see the LEAD male character be this awful.
Lee Joon Young
A lot of people like to talk about how shitty the son is but you gotta understand he’s a kid who loves his father. He’s the one I feel the most sorry for and honestly even though I don’t agree with his actions, I feel sorry he had to go through this and sorry his father destroyed them.
I also liked how his character was handled. There is this struggle within him, he’s suffering because of his father’s actions and his mother’s decision to have him witness his beloved dad beat her was a terrible decision, but his reaction was expected. He’s a kid after all and no kid wants his family to be torn apart.
How the supporting characters enrich the drama
Ji Sun Woo’s BFF Sul Myung Sook deserves a beating but she’s the type of character we all know. We all have a Sul Myung Sook in our lives, someone who pretends to like us but secretly is jealous of everything we does and is looking forward to our downfall. I like that she’s not presented as this evil character who just does things but there is a justification- at least in her head- as to why she does this. I like that there is depth to her character and we’re seeing more of it these days.
The same goes for the mistress Da Kyung, who’s not only a shitty human being but someone who thinks what she did is justifiable and will slowly begin to see how screwed she became by marrying Lee Tae Oh. Her actions and brazen behavior is also fun to watch, she’s not just the mistress, but embodies her character perfectly to make us curious about her next move. We don’t like her but we’re still interested in what she does.
What’s also interesting about her character is that she legitimately let go of Ji Sun Woo the moment she had Lee Tae Oh. She’s not acting like that because she’s jealous of what else she has but she simply wanted her husband and when she got it, she calmed down. She’s not the one seeking revenge or trying to ruin her life anymore.
I also like how her character handled being around their son, Lee Joon Young. She wasn’t disrespectful or mean but tried to take him in because of her love for her husband.
Kim Yoon Ki
Kim Yoon Ki is probably the tamest character on this list and he redeems our main characters, his appearance on the screen is limited but when he’s on, we’re fascinated by him.
He’s the opposite to the majority of our lead characters and in contrast gives us another sort of feeling aside from anger whilst watching “The World Of The Married.” His character is important more than people think because he makes the drama a lot more tolerable. Imagine the drama without him, it could’ve easily become overbearing. We need such a character to balance things out.
Ko Ye Rim, who used to be Ji Sun Woo’s friend, also plays an important role in balancing our feelings. She’s by no means a good character but still, not as crazy as everyone else. She may follow along in certain situations- to her advantage- but has no issue standing up when she feels that she’s going too far. Unlike the majority of the characters in “The World Of The Married.”
The drama is playing on our heartstrings balancing between making us anxious and slightly relieved. “The World Of The Married” is an experience and sometimes a bit too much but since the script is written so well and the work on the characters is so good, you can’t help but tune in.
Let us not forget the amazing performances, each actor is just perfect for their role, I would’ve replace any of them. I like the new upcoming actors who are equally captivating as the leads who have been around for a while.
I hope the success of “The World Of The Married” signals more change in kdramas, we need more scripts like this one. Enough with the overly nice leading woman and rich-hot-and-bothered leading man, there is more to show and humans are more complicated than these simple repeated characteristics.
What do you think of my analysis? Are you currently watching “The World Of The Married”?