The relationship between Ji-hoon and Hye-soo remains icy. They don't like each other very much, and it's easy to see why. Ji-hoon legitimately has trouble so much as processing Hye-soo's motivation, which is suitably ironic given that he himself is motivated entirely by motherly love. It's just that in Ji-hoon's eyes, saving Mi-ran is more a goal he should be striving for than one of emotional merit. Ji-hoon's pointed verbal attack against Mi-ran at the end really stings in part because he's right. The situation is in fact her fault. Mi-ran is a hard character to pity.
So is Ji-hoon for that matter. Brief moments of restaurant employee gossip firmly establish that Ji-hoon is not a popular boss, and that they know he's little more than a soulless suit. Where "Marriage Contract" really excels is in showing what it's like for a person to live daily life as a soulless suit. Ji-hoon's ex-girlfriend Na-yoon (played by Kim Yoo-ri) is especially brutal in her appraisal of Ji-hoon's personality, yet she's basically right about him.
Hye-soo is appropriately bewildered by all this. I like how she obviously finds the situation bizarre, but is willing to bite her lip because she needs the fake marriage as much as Ji-hoon does. Even so, Hye-soo is able to live life on her own terms. Observe how with Eun-seong, Hye-soo is able to take joy even in such small pleasures as eating meat because life is about enjoying oneself. Living is not a means in and of itself.
That's the sense of wonder that's missing from Ji-hoon's fairly stiff family relations. Ji-hoon gets along all right his family, but never really talks to them. This aspect of his life is an essential plank to Ji-hoon's greater plan to convince people that he could maintain a secret girlfriend for so long without they're knowing. Even Ji-hoon's sense of humor feels slightly wrong. He mostly fails to grasp the irony in Hye-soo's suggestion for how they first met.
There's a lot about Ji-hoon that's fascinating yet oddly probable in a lot of ways rich family dynamics aren't normally portrayed in media. Ji-hoon is more clueless and out-of-touch than he is genuinely malicious. Just look at his preposterous car, or his surprise at seeing the home of a lower-class person. Then compare Eun-seong, and how there's something all-too-adorable about how she's finally found a cute animal that probably won't accidentally find some way to kill her.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 3"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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