Mi-ran's escape is short-lived- as it turns out, Ji-hoon has a very good idea of where she's planning to go. Really, there's only one place Mi-ran can go, feeling so humiliated and ashamed about the sacrifices her son is willing to make. Mi-ran goes to see her parents- to whom her own filial loyalty was less than inspiring. In practice and form, Ji-hoon ends up taking a much needed break from the dysfunction of his family to try and enjoy some time with his mother. Hye-soo and Eun-seong tag along to help.
Technically speaking Hye-soo's motivation, right until the end, is quite cynical. She's thinking of her own situation, frightened about what will happen to Eun-seong after Hye-soo herself likely dies in the near future. It's easy to compare Hye-soo to Na-yoon, a woman whose desire to be with Ji-hoon has less to do with emotional sincerity and more a desire to "win". Even the big event that closes out the episode is just Hye-soo trying to think tactically.
But that's what makes the moment so powerful. Look at the tears streaming down Hye-soo's face. She's frightened and ashamed of her actions. Yet deep down there is some sincerity there. Hye-soo admires Ji-hoon's sense of honor. He's a man who will do anything for his mother, who doesn't believe in holding Hye-soo to an obligation unfairly, and most importantly of all, Ji-hoon is a man who will stand up for Eun-seong and do anything to protect the little girl with no other protector.
It's heart-wrenching stuff, because Ji-hoon sees Hye-soo as being like his own mother. Not in a creepy Freudian way or a Madonna complex or anything like that. It's Hye-soo's sense of patience, her own sense of honor, and how she's been one of the few positive influences on his life where Ji-hoon is trapped between disobeying his father and betraying his brother. What kind of family is that- why doesn't Seong-gook just order Jeong-hoon around instead? Jeong-hoon actually desires his father's approval.
The performances in "Marriage Contract" really are great. I love how Ji-hoon has been growing by bits and steps. By the end of the episode, Ji-hoon is willing to go after what he wants without reservation. For possibly the first time in his life, Ji-hoon feels that he knows what's best for his own life. I think that even if Ji-hoon knew Hye-soo's more cynical motivation, he could accept that. Because Ji-hoon, too, just wants someone who's worth fighting for.
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 9"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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