The World of the Married

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Kim Hee-ae in The World of the Married.
Kim Hee-ae in The World of the Married.
Photo: Facebook/JTBC


The World of the Married




4/5 Stars


A turbulent twister of lies, betrayals and revenge tears apart the seemingly picture-perfect marriage between a doctor and a filmmaker.


The World of the Married is one of those shows in which seemingly good people do a lot of bad things. Whether it's their nature or just a momentary lapse of judgment, you're not really sure, and as you dive deeper into their dysfunction, you want to look away. But at the same time, you also can't tear your eyes off them as you bear witness to their downfall.

The series is based on the BBC One drama series, Doctor Foster, and is the highest-rated drama series in Korean television history. With themes of revenge and betrayal and a walk on the dark side of human nature, it's easy to see why this show is a ratings hit. 

The story follows Ji Sun-woo (Kim Hee-ae), a doctor who is married to Lee Tae-oh (Park Hae-joon), a struggling movie director. They have a teenage son, Lee Joon-young (Jeon Jin-seo). On the surface, her life seems pretty perfect. She has a successful career and a happy marriage and family life. That is until she discovers that her husband is having an affair with Yeo Da-kyung (Han So-hee), who is the daughter of one of her patients and the richest man in the Gosan - the town in which they live.

What I appreciated was that the show didn't drag out the 'Is he or isn't he having an affair' drama. In the first episode, we witness Sun-woo become aware of Tae-oh's affair. And to rub salt into the wound, she finds out that all of her so-called friends already know about it. There's nothing like a betrayal this deep to send you over the edge, and as soon as the second episode starts, we see Sun-woo tiptoeing perilously on that edge.

With the fast pace of the show, it's riveting to watch. Almost every episode ends on a cliffhanger. The episodes clock in at more than 80 minutes and as such, it's not one to watch late at night. I can guarantee that you will click "next episode" into the early hours of the morning.

Through creative filming techniques and an excellent accompanying soundtrack, you will be immersed in the world of these characters. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, that will leave you a bit queasy.

When it comes to the acting, the cast did a stellar job bringing the characters to life. I will be honest though, at the end of this drama I wasn't sure if I liked any of them because the lengths that they went to get what they wanted and hurt each other, left a bitter aftertaste. For me, there wasn't one redeeming character in the show.

Kim Hee-ae as Sun-woo leads this show quite spectacularly. You can feel every range of emotion Sun-woo goes through. In the first five episodes, I was entirely on her side; she did everything "right". She supported this man, she created a home, carried them financially and met all his needs, yet he still went out and cheated on her. You can do everything seemingly right, and still, there seems to be no guarantee of fidelity. From the sixth episode, Sun-woo spirals out of control and does a lot of questionable things to gain full custody of her son. There's a two-year time jump from the seventh episode, and we see her sink deeper into her obsession with Tae-oh. At that point, I just felt like it wasn't about revenge anymore, she just couldn't stop herself from her destructive behaviour, and she didn't care who was affected.

If ever there was a TV husband to hate, it's Park Hae-joon as Lee Tae-oh. He is rude, pathetic, weak and relies on the women in his life to provide for him. He also doesn't take any responsibility for his actions; he is always blaming everything that has happened to him on everyone around him. Park Hae-joon inhabited this character so well, particularly towards the last episodes when you see that he has a very disturbing personality.

This show is also women-centred and takes a look at the struggles women still face in society, such as sexism, misogyny, and the stigma of divorce. There are several supporting characters in the show who are cheated on by their husbands. The women are told: "He's a man, forgive him just this once, they can't control their instincts," and when they consider divorce they are told: "Where will you find another man? You know how divorcees get treated." It might sound outdated, but society still determines a woman's worth on whether she can get a husband and keep him.

Another overarching theme in this show is the toll a messy divorces takes on a child, and toxic parenting. A lot of the actions that Sun-woo and Tae-oh take are based on what they think is best for their son Joon-young who unfortunately ends up being the victim of his parents' unhealthy obsession with each other.

There's been a lot of debate about the ending - some love it, some hate it. I fall into the latter category. For a show that kept me guessing and left me shooketh throughout the season, I found the ending to be a bit of an anti-climax. I just felt the last episode didn't fit in with the style of the rest of the series.

With that said The World of the Married is an intriguing show that will have you hooked and keep you glued to the screen.


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