You know that saying “what you say about others says a lot about you”? Well, my interest in KBS’s 2014 drama special Why I’m Getting Married kind of falls in line with those sentiments. Because the premise behind Why I’m Getting Married (also known as The Reason I’m Getting Married) piqued my interest right away. I’m always interested in different perspectives on the complexities of long-term relationships so a peek at a couple who are about to get married six years into coupledom was a must-see for me. Of course, when I saw Song Jong-ho attached to the project, that totally sealed the deal. So maybe an interest in hot men is actually what the selection of this drama special says about me. But before I digress, let’s get to it, shall we?
Title(s): The Reason I’m Getting Married, Why I’m Getting Married
Starring: Park Hee-bon, Song Jong-ho, and Hong Jong-hyun
Original Air Date: March 23, 2014
WHY I’M GETTING MARRIED RECAP
Our heroine Kim Ji-won (Park Hee-bon) is having an after-work dinner date with her friends when her friend Hye-jeong announces she’s getting engaged. She’s only known her future husband for three months, but he’s the youngest son, he doesn’t have any sisters and his parents live across the Pacific. He’ll head up his own law firm soon too, hence: he’s excellent marriage material.
Ji-won’s other friend (the show frustratingly does not refer to her by name) snarkily remarks that it’s more like she’s getting married off as her father is the one opening the firm for her fiancé as part of the deal. Unfazed by the put down, Hye-jeong looks around wondering where he is. He should be there by now to complete his “surprise” proposal, which Ji-won and her friend have to pretend they know nothing about.
They wonder if he’s held up arranging some lame decorations, like balloons and candles (what is it with KBS’s drama specials frowning on balloon and candle displays?). And sure enough a moment later he trips into the restaurant pushing a cart loaded with balloons and candles. At least there’s cake too! Hye-jeong signals for the girls to act surprised and they ooh and aah as he gets down on one knee to propose.
In voice-over, Ji-won says: “We go out with people for love but marriage isn’t about love. When loves blooms through a relationship and progresses to a responsible system called marriage, women . . . they need some kind of evidence. A lifetime’s too long to live based on love. Life is always rocky.”
She gets a text from her fiancé, whose numbered is saved as “my husband,” saying he’ll be finished in thirty minutes.
Her fiancé, Han Seung-wook (Song Jong-ho), is at a noraebang finishing up a sales pitch to a new client. He’s an insurance salesman, among other things, and is clearly good at his job. After he closes the deal, his younger co-worker marvels at him selling another double policy and offers to give him a ride home. Seung-wook doesn’t need a ride though. He smiles as he says he has his own driver . . . who happens to be Ji-won.
Seung-wook is dead tired from working all day (and into the night) and immediately reclines his seat to get some sleep as she drives him home. Ji-won, on the other hand, hasn’t seem him in days and pesters him to wake up and talk to her. She wants an answer to the question she asked him the last time they met: why is he marrying her? She keeps needling him and insists on him finally answering her question until she starts to panic at the sight of a drunk driving checkpoint ahead.
At the checkpoint, the officer holds out a breathalyzer machine and tells her to blow into it, but she has her hand over her mouth and refuses to do it. Seung-wook tries to encourage her to just get it over with, but she yells at him asking him why he still hasn’t told her why he’s marrying her. He hands the machine back to the officer and looks away as she stares at him huffily.
Turns out she gets off with a warning, but once they make it to the apartment Seung-wook calls her stupid for drinking and driving. He jokingly tells her it’s okay, he’ll marry her even if she is stupid as he heads to bed. She gets mad because he called her stupid and follows him into the bedroom. Then she gets mad because she sees he’s thrown his socks on the floor.
She’s also mad because his trash bin is full of black goat tonic containers. She hates the smell of it, so she tacks that onto the list of things he does that annoys her. He tells her the tonic is good for his body and he needs it to continue working two jobs. It’s one of the things she should just let go, he says, just like he’s let go of the fact that everything she picked out for the bedroom is pink.
Her stomach starts growling and apparently that’s his fault too. She’s been starving herself to look good in her wedding dress. He tells her she needs to forget about the dress and eat. Besides, men don’t like women dressed up anyway, he claims. Men prefer women naked, which is why she should sleep over tonight, he says. She’s still mad (and hungry) though so she stomps out. But she comes back in to yell at him again for him to tell her why he wants to marry her.
He (wisely) remains mum so she goes home. When she gets to her room, she sees boxes in the middle of the floor. Her mom has already started using the room for storage now that she’ll be getting married and leaving soon. The stuff belonged to her late father. She peeks inside one of the boxes and a snow globe catches her eye. She picks it up and holds it as she looks at a picture of her father sitting on her dresser.
The next day she excitedly shares the news with Hye-jeong that she managed to snag a consultation appointment at Iluso—a luxury wedding venue in Gangnam. Too bad she has to go to the appointment alone. Seung-wook calls and cancels on her because he’s busy going after a new client.
But he needn’t have bothered anyway—it’s not a “luxury” venue for nothing. The prices are astronomical. The rental on one of the dresses, alone, costs $10,800. Ji-won knows she can’t afford it, but she can’t resist trying it on. And I don’t blame her, it’s a gorgeous dress and she looks beautiful in it! Lee Joon-ki (Hong Jong-hyun) agrees with me too. As the second lead (and the CEO of Iluso) it’s only natural that he makes his entrance when she’s admiring herself (and the dress) in the mirror.
He recognizes Ji-won right away and stands there staring at her. She sees his gaze and gets a little uncomfortable that a strange guy is ogling her. It’s even more awkward when he tells her how pretty she looks She thanks him and turns away. He calls her by name though, and she takes a closer look—finally recognizing him too.
Flashback. She and Joon-ki are at a café. He’s given her a letter, with lyrics to a song written out on it, as a sort of confession of his feelings. She laughs at him and he tells her he knows she thinks he’s too young, but he insists his heart isn’t young.
He can’t get any further because Seung-wook walks in and sees them together. Joon-ki is so much younger than they are that Seung-wook isn’t even fazed by the sight. He jokingly asks Ji-won if she’s cheating on him already, then he asks Joon-ki what she said to seduce him. Joon-ki is adorably jealous and refuses to tell Seung-wook his name until Seung-wook tells him his name first, lol.
When we cut back to Joon-ki and Ji-won, they’re at the café in Iluso. Joon-ki finds out Ji-won and Seung-wook are just getting around to getting married despite getting engaged six years ago. He asks if they’re having the wedding at Iluso. She tells him she was just having a consultation but she won’t be getting married there. She wants to know what he’s been up to all this time, and when he tells her he works at Iluso, she thinks he’s one of the valets. She leans over and whispers that she noticed they pick people for their looks as opposed to their driving skills. She admits, “My heart fluttered for three seconds back there.” He chuckles and tells her his heart fluttered too. HaHa!
As she drives off, she looks at him in the rearview mirror and muses that Seung-wook used to be like that.
Flashback to when she and Seung-wook were still in the infatuation stage of their relationship. He lay with his head in her lap as she fed him ice cream, and they discussed his decision not to study abroad because he didn’t want to be away from her for that long. He had to tell his parents though and knew he’d probably get hit. She sweetly told him she’d stand next to him and get hit too, and he ruffled her hair as he asked (in baby talk) whether she’d eaten yet.
Cut to present day mealtime. He’s taken her to lunch and digs into the seafood soup, which she hates, as she sits there glaring at him. As usual, they’re bickering. This time, it’s about Iluso—which he thinks is a waste of money—and furniture for the house—which he also thinks is a waste of money as she wants all new stuff. He tells her the wedding doesn’t have to be a big deal and to go with the flow, but that just earns him a glare.
He pulls out his vitamins and she knocks the bottle over and asks how long he plans to live that he’s taking such good care of himself. He says he’s going to live just one day longer than she does, and she yells at him again for being so selfish.
That night, Joon-ki looks out the window of his luxury apartment and thinks about Ji-won. He flashes back to another time he’d tried to win her over. He’d blindfolded her as he set up a heart-shaped candle display, then he’d surprised her with a necklace and asked her to marry him. She laughed it off as another joke despite him insisting he’s the one for her. He was cute as he tried to use his family’s money to sway her decision. “My family’s really rich,” he said, “I’m going to inherit everything.” Ji-won played along and asked exactly how rich are they. He took the question seriously and deadpanned: “All I have is money.” LOL!
Meanwhile, at her house, Ji-won wonders if it’s the marriage or the wedding that has her so nervous. (Ah! So perhaps it’s not Seung-wook but her with the problem.) She’s in her room and her eyes land on her father’s snow globe. She picks it up and shakes it. Everything in the room gets blurry, and she gets drowsy. She puts her head down on the vanity and falls asleep. The snow globe starts to glow and suddenly Ji-won is in a hospital ward outside her father’s room. She starts to push open the door, but then she wakes up.
The next day, she’s at work when she gets a call that excites her to no end. She’s been randomly selected from among the couples that had consultations at Iluso to win a VVIP wedding package. She gets to have her dream wedding! And wear her dream dress!
She heads over to Iluso to pick up the VVIP voucher and of course she runs into Joon-ki. He acts genuinely shocked to see her although we all know he’s responsible for the “random” drawing. There’s this hilarious bit as he has to pretend to be a valet to keep his identity as the CEO a secret. Not one to pass up an opportunity though, he offers to drive her back to work, claiming he’s going to the bus terminal near her office.
But he takes things too far when he purposely causes a fender-bender just to spend more time with her. They end up at the hospital because he hurt his wrist. The joke’s on him though. She leaves anyway when she gets a call from work.
That night Seung-wook calls her at the office to check on her. She’s tired and irritable so he asks what’s wrong. He playfully tells her not to overwork herself and that irritates her too. (And now she’s irritating me.) He gets serious for a moment and says if it’s too much, she should quit. They’ll be having children soon and she’s not young anymore. She finally calms down and says she knows. She says once her little sister Ji-yeong graduates, she will quit, but for now she has to get back to work, and she hangs up.
By the time she leaves, it’s raining and she stands at the door of the building wondering what to do. Suddenly an umbrella appears over her head. She looks up and it’s Joon-ki of course.
As they walk down the sidewalk, she points out that he’s holding the umbrella mostly over her so that the other side of him is getting wet. He puts his arm around her shoulder and moves closer to her, then he thanks her for not asking why he came tonight. She looks at him, realizing he still likes her, and says she forgot what she meant to him. She’s about to let him down gently, but a car is passing by and he hurries to stand in front of her so she doesn’t get splashed.
Instead, the water splashes all over his back and they both stand there staring at each other. He finally breaks the silence and says, “I’m not going to apologize. This is not a mistake.” And he kisses her.
When he breaks the kiss, she looks a little flustered, but she frustratingly says she’s too old to read into that kind of thing. She tells him she’s getting married soon, and he says that means she’s not married yet. She looks him in the eyes and says, “You know this doesn’t make sense right?” He responds, “But my heart tells me it does.”
He takes her hand and gives her the umbrella, and then he steps out into the rain. He says all she has to do is come this far, and he waits for her to walk toward him. She doesn’t move though. He’s visibly disappointed and resignedly tells her he left her car in the parking garage. He tells her to drive home and be sure not to catch a cold.
Seung-wook has just arrived at his apartment when he hears the doorbell ring. He stands there staring straight ahead and sighs. When he hears Ji-won call out that it’s her, he opens the door for her, asking if she forgot the code. She grabs him into a backhug before he can get far and says she wanted him to open it for her today. He asks her what’s wrong, but she says there’s nothing wrong. She’s just missing her dad these days.
Then she remembers winning the Iluso voucher and tells him they can get married there after all. He’s not very enthused about it. In fact, he doesn’t want to get married there at all. Ji-won doesn’t understand the problem, and it doesn’t help that Seung-wook won’t explain why he’s against it.
They start arguing again and they both have valid points. Seung-wook wants to know if it’s about him or the wedding while Ji-won wants to know why they shouldn’t take advantage of such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Ji-won asks if he even loves her and he whirls around to stare at her.
“I told myself a thousand times that I decided to live with one woman for the rest of my life and provide for that woman. Whatever happens to me, whatever that woman does, this woman is for life,” he says. He has tears in his eyes as he tells her, “To me, that’s marriage.” “Love?” he asks and he scoffs as he tells her to “stop acting up.” Ji-won is hurt and asks, “Is that what I do? Act up?” (And even though I’m a little offended by the speech too, I want to yell at her—yeah, you kinda do. Act up. A lot.)
She tells him she’s glad they didn’t get married earlier seeing as how they ended up like this. She doesn’t think she asked for a lot. Yes, she wanted to get married at a luxury wedding hall and she wanted new things for the house, but she can admit she doesn’t need those things. But still, he shouldn’t look at her the way he’s looking at her now, she says, because he knows what she’s really doing. She’s really just trying to make an effort to live with him. To marry him. And to make things work. She starts crying and asks if he can hold her, embrace her and love her just once. “Can’t you just do that?” she asks.
But Seung-wook is still holding back. He tells her to stop putting in so much effort. Effort won’t solve anything, he says. She decides they need to stop now or they’ll really end up splitting up. Seung-wook is still upset, and he tells her to leave and apologizes that he can’t take her home this time.
She cries in the car on the way home. She gets so upset that she has to pull over and sob on the side of the road. The next morning, she comes down to the parking garage with her little sister, Ji-yeong (cameo by Kim Ji-won) (quick side note: I love the fact that Kim Ji-won is in a drama with a character that has her real name).
Ji-yeong looks at the lopsided parking job and wonders if Ji-won was drinking the night before. Ji-won tells her to just get in the car, but inside it’s not much better because then Ji-yeong wonders where the huge umbrella came from.
Ji-won goes to Iluso to return Joon-ki’s umbrella. She asks a staff member to give it to him, but of course the employee tells her there’s no one there by that name. Joon-ki happens to be walking up behind them and Ji-won is shocked when the employee greets him as Daepyonim.
Over tea, Joon-ki apologizes for lying and for underhandedly giving her the wedding voucher. He admits he just wanted to do something for her. She tells him she’s not the same girl she was six years ago. She could walk away from his money then, but now she’d like nothing more than to marry a wealthy man, have a grand wedding, and live a comfortable and safe life. Joon-ki asks why she’s hesitating then when he can give her all those things. He puts his hand on her hand and holds on even when she tries to pull away. He tells her she only needs to come this close, and he asks if she can accept his feelings. She’s on the verge of tears as she stares at him.
Seung-wook is still bothered by their argument the night before. He goes to Iluso to speak with the consultant and learns Ji-won booked the VVIP package with them. As he’s leaving, he sees Joon-ki and stares at him as if he’s shocked.
Flashback to the night before. Seung-wook has flowers sitting on the passenger seat of his car and pulls up outside Ji-won’s office to give her a ride home. Only, Ji-won’s not alone. As she stands on the corner, he sees her under the umbrella with Joon-ki, and he sees them kiss. He pulls off and goes home instead of letting her know he’s there. (So that explains his behavior when she came over afterwards!)
Back in the present, Seung-wook sits in his car holding a lighter with Ji-won’s picture on it and thinking back to the kiss he witnessed between Joon-ki and Ji-won. His cell phone rings and interrupts his reverie, and finally he drives off to meet a client.
Ji-won takes her dilemma to her girlfriends, but they’re no help. One of them pushes for Seung-wook while the other supports Joon-ki. Hye-jeong finally stops their back and forth when she announces she broke up with her fiancé. Her reasons: he chews too loudly and his pants are too short. With her new philosophy on love—love is about being able to put up with the things you dislike about your partner forever—she decided she couldn’t deal with him for the rest of her life. She tells Ji-won to choose a man based on that.
Seung-wook has another late night closing a deal with a new client. His colleague has drank too much, again, and asks why Seung-wook didn’t drink all night. Seung-wook tells him it’s an important night and hurries away.
Meanwhile, Joon-ki has arrived at the bar where Ji-won and her friends sat drinking. He’s too late though. All he finds is the VVIP voucher on the counter with a note from Ji-won saying sorry.
By the time Ji-won arrives home, she’s drunk and her mother fusses at her for forgetting it’s her father’s death anniversary. Her mother looks over at her dad’s picture and tells him he’s lucky that at least he has his son-in-law. Ji-won asks if Seung-wook’s been there and Ji-yeong asks if she has dementia or something—Seung-wook never misses their father’s death anniversary, she says.
Ji-won is still reeling from that thought when her mother shocks her again. Apparently Seung-wook leased a house near their new apartment for her mother and sister to live in after they get married. Her mom gives her the lease and tells her to thank Seung-wook but to tell him they don’t need a new place or to live nearby.
That night, she falls asleep at her desk. The snow globe starts to glow and when she wakes up, she’s standing outside her dad’s hospital room again. She sees herself crying at her dad’s side and goes inside the room. Her dad looks toward the door as if he can see her, but actually Seung-wook has come into the room and her dad is looking at him.
She never knew, but Seung-wook went to the hospital to meet her dad before he died. He was the one who gave Dad the snow globe because she’d mentioned her father liked winter. He’d gotten on his knees and apologized for bothering him when he was so ill, but he wanted her father to meet him in person and to give him permission to marry her, he said. Dad had Seung-wook sit beside him and he held Seung-wook’s hand and apologized that he wouldn’t be able to hold his hand later. He’d told Seung-wook that he could let Ji-won starve, he could even cause her heart ache, as long as he stayed by her side for a long time. He said, “Don’t die even a day earlier than she does. Staying by her side for a long time—that’s love.” And he asked Seung-wook if he could do that.
Ji-won cries as she watches Seung-wook tell her father he would stay by her side for a long time. Then she watches as her dad gives Seung-wook the lighter with the picture of Ji-won and him on it.
Back in the present, Ji-won sobs in her sleep and the snow globe starts glowing again. All of a sudden, Ji-won is outside her dad’s funeral. She sees Seung-wook comforting her little sister, who is scared and anxious because her mother and Ji-won are crying so much. Ji-yeoung had called Seung-wook oppa and he made her call him brother-in-law and promised to be her brother-in-law for life as he gave her a piggy back ride to let her rest.
Seung-wook is in his bedroom at his apartment looking out the window brooding. He thinks about Ji-won’s dad’s last words to him and hears the code being entered at the front door. He gets up and goes to the living room expecting to see Ji-won. No one’s there though, and he wonders if he imagined hearing the code. He grabs his jacket and is about to head out when he sees that Ji-won is there after all.
Ji-won tells him he doesn’t have to answer her—she doesn’t need to know why he’s marrying her anymore and she thanks him for staying by her side. She starts to cry as she asks him to please just live one day longer than she does. He stands there staring at her, then he looks away. He asks her what’s wrong but all she says is, “Marry me please, Han Seung-wook.” He lets out a deep sigh, and she sinks to the floor sobbing. He looks at her and kneels down in front of her. He doesn’t hug her though.
Instead, he helps her to her feet and tells her she’s going to have to eat the seafood soup she hates because it’s good for her. She nods. He says he’s not buying a new bed either, and she nods. He puts his hands on her cheeks and wipes her tears. He warns her that he drank the black goat tonic she hates, and then he swoops in for a kiss.
The next thing we know, they’re trying to leave for their honeymoon but can’t find the passports because Ji-won has packed them in her bag. Seung-wook fishes them out and asks her why she packed so much anyway. Didn’t he tell her men like women undressed. She smiles at him (instead of getting annoyed, yay!) and when he asks her what’s up, she jokingly asks why he married her. He’s like not this again, but he good-naturedly gives her a kiss before he hurries out the door.
In voice-over, Ji-won says, “In the end, there were no promises. There was no sweet confession. He just said he’ll live a day longer than I do. He’s the reason—the reason I got married.” Then she gets up and follows him. The camera pans out to show her father’s snow globe glowing, and the episode ends.
Umm, okay. I hardly know where to begin, but I guess I will start with my overall impression, which is basically disappointment. Because I think this drama special missed the mark (and wasted Song Jong-ho if I might add).
My biggest gripe is that they didn’t spend enough time establishing the relationship between Ji-won and Joon-ki to make their story line believable. It’s like they relied on the fact that we knew he liked her instead of actually showing us he liked her or showing us why he liked her. We didn’t even get to know how they knew each other. Hell, we don’t even know the age difference between the two, which may have at least given us some inkling into how they knew each other. Was she his tutor? Were they neighbors? Did they meet at school? But if he was so rich, how likely is it that they lived in the same neighborhood or went to the same school?
Instead of answers, we got a few pockets of wasted airtime. Like the whole dui checkpoint scene, which served almost no purpose and with so little airtime should have been filled with a more relevant part of the story. Even if we didn’t get much backstory on Joon-ki and Ji-won, they could have at least spent a few minutes setting up the present day romance. Instead, it was like he saw her and BAM he was asking her to be with him. Perhaps that was the point, but as a viewer it felt like it came very much out of left field.
Another gripe is the way they presented Ji-won’s questioning Seung-wook about why he was marrying her. Narratively, Ji-won’s asking the question did not always flow well or seem to happen at an organically appropriate point in their conversation. It was like the show wanted her to ask the question and couldn’t be bothered to come up with good dialogue so they just threw the question in anywhere they could.
But that flaw is nothing compared to the show’s complete failure to address why Ji-won was questioning the relationship. We saw that Seung-wook worked hard and worked a lot. So was Ji-won upset because they didn’t spend enough time together? We saw that Seung-wook wasn’t the most affectionate guy. Was Ji-won mad because she wanted to cuddle more? Or was it just that the passion and newness was gone after being together for six years? We got two minor hints, if they were supposed to be hints, when Ji-won told Seung-wook to show her the love and when she asked him to hold her, but that was it. Otherwise, we watched an entire drama (even if it was a drama special) where the heroine harped about getting a question answered and apparently even she didn’t know why she asked it.
It certainly didn’t help that the heroine was so irritable and a borderline-bridezilla, but I could almost empathize with her so I won’t begrudge the show for that. I will comment on Seung-wook though, who would have frustrated me too if we were dating. I am a firm believer in actions speaking louder than words. So I wouldn’t be quick to dismiss a hard-working man who is inclined to show me how much he loves me by always being there and taking good care of me and mine. But sometimes women (and men) need to hear how much they’re loved too, and Seung-wook didn’t do that at all here. Luckily the snow globe came through and revealed all the things he obviously felt but couldn’t say. And that underlying message of his love made this worth watching. I just wish more of us had a magic snow globe. There’d be a lot less break ups around here . . . I think.