Tuesday, January 17, 2023

KDrama Review: Love in Contract

One of the things that kept me going during this pandemic is watching K-Dramas. I have been a fan of Korean shows for years now, but it was only during the pandemic that I found myself watching these shows to relax and unwind after a long and stressful day.

Love in Contract starring Park Minyoung, which is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime, is one of the shows that recently got my attention. I am familiar with Park Minyoung because of her previous shows like What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim and Her Private Life, two shows that I previously enjoyed watching, so I was curious about this show.

The show is about a young woman named Choi Sangeun, who works as a living as a sort of “professional wife.” She hires herself out to men who need to show other people that they have wives for several reasons: work promotion, to have their families stop pressuring them from getting married, and for their children to have a mother to show to other kids at school…the list goes on and on. She gets married to each man and they stay married for a certain period, enough time for them to satisfy whoever needs to believe that the man had a wife. Once the contracted time is up, they get a divorce and explain that the marriage did not work out. 

The premise of the show was a little weird, but I went on watching it anyway to see where it goes. As it turns out, Sangeun is the adopted child of a wealthy conglomerate (chaebol) family, adopted in the hope that she could be married off to another chaebol family as a business merger in the future. She rebelled against this setup and left that family to fend for herself, using the only asset she had: the training she got to become the perfect wife.

Just as Sangeun was planning to retire when she had saved enough money to move to Canada with her gay best friend (and “ex-husband”), the woman who raised her went to jail, so she used all her money to bail her out. This led to her extending her contract with the man who was supposed to be her last client, Jung Jiho, a judge whose only request was that she have dinner with him three nights a week.

There were so many questions on my mind about this show. First was how she was able to marry and divorce all the men that she had contracts with within that period and how that was all legal. It was confusing to think that she had all these “husbands” and not once did any of the family and friends of these men overlap to the point that they would find out that she was married to all of them.

The whole client factor was also questionable for me. How she was able to maintain a “professional” relationship with all these men doing this on her own does not seem realistic. Sure, there were a couple of stalkers, and the explanation was that she did check on these men before she agreed to a contract, but it still seemed too easy and simple considering how complicated her “service” was. 

There was also the factor of Sangeun agreeing to a contract with popular actor Kang Haejin while “married” to Jiho. What she was doing was risky already with normal people but agreeing to a contract with a celebrity made it even worse. As expected, it was this contract that blew everything up for her in the end. Luckily for her, she eventually found love (I will not say who in case you hate spoilers) and settled down in a real marriage with him. 

I am not sure if I can say that I enjoyed the show. I thought it was OK. I did not love it, and I did not hate it, but it is not something that I would highly recommend. As I said, there were just so many questionable parts in the story for me. I did not care much for Jiho as a character despite the sad backstory that explains his oddness. I also felt more sympathy for Haejin and his struggle to be independent of his rich family than I did for Sangeun and the life she chose to lead as an act of rebellion against her upbringing. Plus, there were too many supporting characters in this show, something that might be because they had to fill up the episodes with extra stories because there was not much going on if you focus on the lead characters alone.

One thing I realized about Park Minyoung is that she portrays her roles the same way. Her portrayal of Sangeun seems to be the same person from the two previous shows that I have seen her in, which is disappointing. I was a little bored watching her. I felt the same about Go Kyungpyo, who played Jiho.

To give a summary of what I thought of the show, let me put it this way: I watched this series and felt that I could zone out at random moments and not miss a thing. If Amazon had a speed-up button like what they have on Netflix, I would have watched it that way. I only stuck with it to see how it would end, but even that ending was too boring and convenient for me. I would have been better off watching something else. 


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