If you told me a year ago that I would watch Hyunhaetan Marriage War (also known as Doenjang-gun and Natto-jjang’s Marriage War) for Im Joo Hwan, I would probably ignore you and brush that off as crazy talk. But here I am, majorly crushing on him at the moment because such is the magnetism and power of Park Kyu. It’s really amazing how one memorable character and performance can change my opinion of an actor 180 degree and make me see said actor in a new light.
Anyway, Hyunhaetan Marriage War is a joint Korean-Japan production that aired on MBC in 2010. In short, it is about a couple who encounters family opposition to their marriage due to cultural differences; the man is Korean while the woman is Japanese. Im Joo Hwan’s character is Dae Chun, the only and youngest son of his family. Dae Chun and Takako, played by Akiba Rie of KBS’s Global Talk Show fame, met while working as research associates in the same lab. After dating happily and cohabiting for some time, they decide to take the next big step, and thus, begins the drama. On the surface, the family opposition seems to be based on racial differences but in actuality, it is rooted in some unpleasant childhood memories and past associations. (This is a k-drama, after all.)
I saw Hyunhaetan Marriage War a few weeks ago and after finishing it, I was thankful that the show is only 2 episode long because I don’t know if I could have followed it through if it’s the typical 16 episode fare, even if I adore Im Joo Hwan. The thing is, although I didn’t hate the show, I didn’t love it either. Rather, it bored me. (You can probably sense that just by the length of this post and how uninspired it sounds.) While watching, the show gave me the impression that it aspired to be funny, heartwarming, and poignant but instead, the story came across as contrived and poorly written. Scenes that were supposed to be funny, such as the one where the main characters’ fathers joined forces to beat up a group of thugs on the beach or the one where Dae Chun was being chased by Takako’s previous suitors, fell flat for me. Furthermore, characters and plot points felt underdeveloped. And the fact that I didn’t feel much chemistry between the two leads probably didn’t help matter either, mostly because Akiba Rie is not a good actress by any measure.
However, despite its flaws, it’s hard to me to critique Hyunhaetan Marriage War too harshly because it’s one of those shows that has its heart in the right place but just failed to deliver. It’s like having a new co-worker who keeps making the same mistake but whom you’d feel bad about criticizing because he/she is a genuinely sweet person.
Secondly, Im Joo Hwan is really cute in Hyunhaetan Marriage War. So, how can I snark too much about a drama that gives me adorkable and pouty Im Joo Hwan.
To watch or not to watch?
I would only recommend that you watch Hyunhaetan Marriage War if you want to be a Im Joo Hwan completist so you can check it off your list. Otherwise, skip this and either wait for What’s Up or watch/re-watch Tamra the Island to get your Im Joo Hwan fix.