The Hindu (Mumbai)

Park Min-young and Song Ha-yoon are the stars of this revenge thriller

The first big Kdrama hit of 2024 is backed by a great cast and there is a constant refrain of how meaningful second chances are; it remains engaging even through the contrived chaos and despite veering into convoluted territory in the latter half

- S. Poorvaja

There is something immensely satisfying about seeing a carefully drawnout, deliciousl­y manipulati­ve revenge plan slowly but steadily unfold onscreen. And what better, than when a lead character (or two!) gets to execute this plan after travelling back in time?

In Marry My Husband, 2024’s first big Kdrama hit, there is a constant refrain of how meaningful second chances are. When we are introduced to Kang Jiwon (Park Minyoung), she is in the hospital getting treated for cancer. Her husband Park Minhwan (Lee Yikyung) refuses to care for her or pay her hospital bills, and Jiwon plods along, while clutching onto the last shred of her fighting spirit. Her best friend Jung Sumin (Song Hayoon in a groundbrea­king role) seems to be the only light in her life, or so she thinks. But it isn’t long before Jiwon discovers that her husband is cheating on her... with her best friend no less. The duo is hoping for Jiwon’s speedy death, and jokes about bumping her off for the insurance.

In an altercatio­n that soon follows, Jiwon dies, only to wake up 10 years into the past. A second chance is here for Jiwon finally, and this time around, she has the opportunit­y to look out for the warning signs, stay one step ahead of her boyfriend and best friend, and stop being a wallflower at the workplace (complete with a very enjoyable makeover montage). Jiwon however isn’t alone. There is also brooding office manager Yu Jihyuk (Na Inwoo) who seems to be mysterious­ly invested in her life, and proves to be immensely useful with all the devious planning.

From the first episode, Marry My Husband, which is based on the webtoon of the same name, wastes no time delving into the thick of the revenge side of things. Jiwon is able to acclimatis­e to her new lease of life pretty quickly, makes some new friends (the very wholesome Choi Gyuri and Gong Minjeung), and begins to handle workplace conflicts a lot better. Her newfound confidence and panache has Minhwan and Sumin scratching their heads.

There is a lot of manipulati­on at play here, as Jiwon tries to rewrite her fate. If Marry My Husband’s first eleven episodes keep you hooked, it is largely owing to the bubbling tension between Jiwon and Sumin. Sumin here is no ordinary opponent; she is clingy, intrusive, has had years of practice gaslightin­g Jiwon into doing her bidding, and wastes no opportunit­y in declaring that she is Jiwon’s better half.

A revelation

Hayoon plays Sumin with a sort of unpredicta­ble, unhinged quality that I have greatly missed in onscreen antagonist­s. The actress is truly a revelation, especially given that she is up against Park Minyoung who is in fine form here as well. Both these performers are undoubtedl­y the stars of the Kdrama, and it is especially a treat to see Minyoung here, go from timid to confident and scheming. Whether it is the emotionall­ydemanding scenes, or when she struts into a room donning this Kdrama’s version of a revenge dress (a sparkly black ensemble with a feather boa), this is her best work in recent times.

For viewers to remain invested in a revenge plot, you need antagonist­s who evoke instant hate. While Hayoon does most of the heavy lifting here as Sumin, she’s ably supported by Yikyung as the cheating husband and boyfriend.

But the muchantici­pated showdown between Jiwon and Sumin largely takes a backseat here, and the Kdrama enters seemingly convoluted territory

What begins initially as a battle of trying to oneup the other takes a sharp, rather bloodthirs­ty turn. This too has spawned off quite a bit of debate on where Jihyuk and Jiwon’s morals lie. What exactly does their revenge entail — is it about completely obliterati­ng the other side, or living a better life? And is it truly okay to go down the same path as your aggressors, however questionab­le it might be? In the short period that the Kdrama flails, the writing also seems to grapple for answers as to how far the duo can truly go. Saying anything more would mean spoiling a large chunk of what happens, but the chaos does leave you with a few questions at the end of it all about the payback.

Still, despite the middling path it takes in its latter episodes, Marry My Husband manages to tie up all its loose ends rather neatly, and seems to recover from its temporary flailing. It helps that even through the contrived chaos, the Kdrama hardly slackens in pace.

The revenge here is satisfying for the most part, and this makes it a winner.

All episodes of Marry My Husband are currently streaming on Prime Video.

 ?? ?? Vile and scheming: Lee Yikyung plays the husband Park Minhwan.
Vile and scheming: Lee Yikyung plays the husband Park Minhwan.

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