Myeong-seok (played by Ryu Soo-young) is a mathematics professor and In-yeong's husband, for the sake of the television program. He's kind of grumpy. Myeong-seok is interesting for being an aloof math genius in a way that's not commonly portrayed. He's perfectly capable of being social. It's just, all Myeong-seok really cares about is math. His temperament is the exact opposite of In-yeong's in pretty much every concievable way. Which would seem to doom any hope of this variety program actually working out.
What makes Myeong-seok (somewhat) different than the other characters is his degree of patience. Myeong-seok is, grudgingly, willing to accept that In-yeong is at least trying to make this fake marriage work. In-yeong is failing rather spectactularly in all these attempts but this isn't a matter of malice on her part. In-yeong genuinely just doesn't understand how anything at the cookery works, so she interprets life in terms of entertainment tropes.
Take, for example, In-yeong's constant attempts to act sexy for the sake of ratings. As a girl group performer, it makes sense that In-yeong thinks this would be appealing. What In-yeong doesn't get is that to someone not familiar with trendy Korean culture, most of her actions just come off as really cloying and annoying. The variety program is a challenge to In-yeong's entire notion of social standards.
Interestingly, so far the traditional family is coming off better than that regard. Yes, In-yeong is being treated rudely by her faux mother-in-law Choon-ja (played by Go Doo-shim). But that's at least partially because In-yeong is incompetent, and Choon-ja is just being brutally honest. By contrast, the city mother-in-law Mi-hee (played by Kim Bo-yun) is duplicitious and also kind of crazy. Yet to the actual characters, she doesn't come off that badly because Mi-hee makes a conscious effort to act sympathetic.
A lot of what makes "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" interesting is the way it blends tropes together in such a way that it's difficult to sort out the parody from the seriousness. Every time 'Kim Dasom' is shown in close-up, the variety show editing manages to make her emotions seem much more exaggerated than they really are, in a way that implies a sublime mastery in her performance that probably doesn't actually exist. Directors Lee Deok-geon and Park Man-yeong appear to be trying to mock storytelling that's far more simple than is being implied. The joke is a fairly bizarre one, but it does manage to be funny.
Review by William Schwartz
"The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" is directed by Lee Deok-geon & Park Man-yeong, written by Moon Seon-hee & Yoo Nam-kyeong and features Kim Dasom, Go Doo-shim, Ryu Soo-young, Kwak Hee-sung, Kim Yoon-seo, Kim Sung-hwan and more.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 2"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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