I like watching shows when they’ve completed their runs for a few reasons. 1. If the ending is so crappy as to completely overshadow any positives about it, there will be people who’ve seen it to warn me. 2. Instant gratification, if you can call 16-21+ hours of watching instant. At the very least, I don’t have to wait weeks to see what happens, and I won’t have to deal with that sinking feeling that comes when I realize my favorite show has been preempted for the week by a Korean holiday or breaking news coverage (such as in the case of Secret Love Affair and A Witches Romance this week.)
This week I’m marathoning Bride of the Century.
The Taeyang Corporation has a dark secret; the family that runs it is cursed. The first wife of the first son of each generation is supposedly doomed to die soon after the wedding. Choi Kang Joo (Lee Hong Ki), the oldest son, is engaged to marry Jang Yi Kyung (Yang Jin Sung.) This marriage is a business deal wherein neither party is particularly affectionate towards the other one. When Yi Kyung takes off, her mother and half-brother replace her with Na Doo Rim, who looks like her but is a completely different sort of person. This drama recently wrapped. I was reluctant to watch it while airing, both because I’d heard it described as a melodrama, and because I just didn’t see Lee Hong Ki pulling off a cold chaebol role.
♫One of these things is not like the other♫
Let’s talk about the acting first. Were my concerns justified? Yes and no.
Like many people, Lee Hong Ki is stuck in my head as the adorable, bubbly, surprise party-throwing third lead Jeremy in You’re Beautiful. I’m not saying I don’t think Lee Hong Ki is a good actor; the bus scene in You’re Beautiful in which Jeremy tearfully sings a children’s song is arguably the most emotionally evocative moment in the whole series.
However, I see Lee Hong Ki as a comedic actor, not a straight man. Additionally, I think he is better at playing characters who act on what they feel. I could easily see him playing a rude, tantrum throwing character who is good at acting friendly but turns on people when he doesn’t get what he wants, or perhaps a lovelorn, constantly depressed chaebol who changes when he meets the ubiquitous, cheerful little poor girl. But playing a rich, lofty guy who doesn’t connect with people- I was sure he would come off like he was- well, like he was trying really hard to act like Jang Geun Suk in You’re Beautiful. And I can’t say I found him very convincing in the beginning, pitch-black hair or not.
After a few episodes, however, that works for the story. The character is not naturally cold or a jerk, but is someone with a naturally cheerful temperament who changed to protect himself. The scenes where Yang Jin Sung was sad or upset were done well, as well as the mischievous moments I expected Lee Hong Ki to do well.
I will say that a few of the ‘romantic’ moments felt a little odd to me, but this is more because of the writing than the acting. I’ll tell you the truth, I’m not against clichés if they’re done well. But certain moments, like when Yang Jin Sung was pretending he was going to kiss Na Doo Rim, seemed like they didn’t fit with what was going on at the time, or Yang Jin Sung’s motivation was unexplained. I think he was trying to deal with a new found attraction to (the person he thinks is) Jang Yi Kyung by minimizing it and turning it into a way to annoy her, but I’m not really sure.
Besides that, my only other complaint about this show is cutting away from scenes at weird times. As for it being a melodrama, for me that word calls to mind lots of crying, lots of death and illness, little humor and a sad ending, all for the sake of being sad rather than to serve the plot. I don’t know what the ending to Bride of the Century is yet, but so far it’s amusing and all sad aspects fit the plot well.
So far, I’m interested in the mystery and find most of the characters interesting. I could deal with one or two less evil-ish females (pretty tired of the scheming female trope), but I really like the female lead.