KDRAMAGUK : Korean Drama Soup

a landing site for quick, completely biased, and totally snarky korean drama reviews


Monday, March 22, 2010

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry (2010)

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry
아직도 결혼하고 싶은 여자
(Jan – Mar 2010)

who’s in it
Park JinHee (Come Back, SoonAe)
Uhm JiWon (Ruler of Your Own World)
Wang BitNa (Hwang JinYi - drama)
Kim Bum (Boys Over Flowers)

what’s it about
Three successful, single women, played by Park JinHee, Uhm JiWon and Wang BitNa, find themselves in their mid-thirties still struggling with the unique challenges of their respective love lives (or lack thereof). Even as they’ve grown wiser through age, they continue to wrestle with the societal pressures put upon them to live, date and behave a particular way because they are, well, women. Some of their issues include a woman’s age old dilemma of being forced to choose between success or marriage, the woes of having overly high expectations of romance, the trials of scoring a good match without a lofty family background, and last and definitely my favorite, trying to make work a relationship with a much younger man.

The main plot: Park JinHee is an established if not quite successful television journalist still struggling to find her career break after 10 years of hard work. Her job is a landmine and it demands too much of her time which directly correlates to her unfulfilled love life. When an old flame wants to return to her side, a man she long ago thought was “The One” until he dumped her for choosing her career over their marriage, she is torn between a comfortable old blanket and the new electric one tugging at her heart. This electric blanket strolls around in the form of whipcream dreamy ice cream flavor called Kim Bum, who plays an indie singer-songwriter. Where’s the dilemma, you ask? Isn’t it obvious who she should pick? Well, the problem is that Kim Bum is 10 years her junior. Ouch. In this society and in Korea especially, that’s a gap of Grand Canyon proportions.

Rounding out the cast we have a string of excellent supporting characters (they could even be called equally-billed characters) such as her two best friends Wang BitNa and Uhm JiWon, who are the right amoung of fleshed out and complex, and two handsome men angling for love themselves, played by Choi ChulHo (Partner) and Lee PilMo (Sons of Sol Pharmacy).

16 episodes


wildcard factor
The chemical bubbling between Park JinHee and Kim Bum was seriously hot stuff percolating on the Bunsen burner. Charming and flirty, the two were very enjoyable to watch. The popular way of introduction for main couples tend to be in outright antagonism, but in this case, it was mostly tentative flirting and mutual interest. I like it. It’s teasing in a different way than the familiar complete-hate-at-first-sight.

Man, some girls have all the luck, don’t they? I believe Park JinHee is also starring with TOP in the film Into the Gunfire!

after the first episode
I saw a lot of potential, including some faint whiffs of Dal Ja's Spring and Sex and the City (without the gratuitous shots of sex, boobies, or dangling bits). This is a story about dating but it’s also about the friendship between men and women. Also significant, Kim Bum has never looked more delectable – I couldn’t be more serious when I say that, too. I'm totally liking! The other two women who played Park JinHee’s best friends were instantly relatable and lovable as well.

On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised by how refreshing I found the entirety of the show and how successfully it balanced humor and character development.

gave up

snoozer moments
The romance between the characters played by Lee PilMo (Park JinHee’s ex) and Park JiYoung (Kim Bum’s mother) didn’t exactly get me dancing in my seat. Not that it wasn’t sweet in its own way, I simply wasn’t that into it. I loved the three main gals so much, I wanted all my time with them. I would have preferred more screen time with Wang BitNa’s strong independent character and her love story rather than SO MUCH TIME with Park JiYoung’s troubled/insecure process of self-development. 

AND it would be fail if I didn’t confess that I still feel some residual (and possibly completely unfair) sourness toward Lee PilMo from his Sons of Sol Pharmacy stint. Sorry Lee PilMo-sshi but it may take a while to get the memory of your character DooDooPung out of my head. Whenever I see that crooked, self-satisfied smile on your handsome face, I’m instantly back there—there being DooDooPung’s dysfunctional brand of charming.

Man! Whenever the ladies gathered together for some rice wine and table-top grilling, my stomach gurgled so loudly I think they must have it heard all the way over there in Korea, I was that jealous.

what didn’t work
I mentioned this earlier in the snoozer section, but I really wanted more of the sassy kendōka who could run a restaurant while taking care of her friends and complete strangers without even breaking a sweat. I really loved Wang BitNa’s ultra-cool Kim BuKi. She defied convention and was one of the most straight up strongest female characters I’ve seen in the kdrama context of late. She was single-handedly fighting the feminist battle in her own universe. For sure, everyone needs someone like her in their corner. When you’re about to get knocked out, she'll squirt water into your bloody mouth and remind you that no one can keep you down so get out there and keep fighting! Spoiler warning, highlight text between arrows if you want to read: — > I even enjoyed her [maybe] budding romance with the jerk reporter from UBN...too bad the show decided her story arc was less interesting than Park JiYoung’s constant flamenco dancing. A mistep by a show that did everything else so well. <

what did
Park JinHee, Uhm JiWon and Wang BitNa were simply fa-ha-bulous. If only everyone had a circle of friends this awesome, this supportive, and this looney—no one would be sad. And there would probably be world peace, too. Heh.

what made me want to gouge my eyes out
Spoiler warning – highlight text between arrows if you want to read: — >Kim Bum’s grey hair in later episodes...you are a good-looking man, Bummie, but no one can pull off that color! NO ONE. Yuck. < —

Also, just as a sidebar, some of the more hateful side characters did an excellent job because, well, they were really hateful! In a good way. Uhm JiWon’s sister-in-law a notable example. What an annoying woman.

what kept me going
I really liked all three of the main ladies too much. From a purely personal standpoint, I could relate to all three of them, or more accurately, aspects of their personality. But I ask you, who in this life has not loved, lost love, or wanted love? Love is the unrelenting universal crutch that has all of us limping through life, isn’t it? The women and the men we meet in Woman were all good human beings and I was rooting for them all the way. They deserved happiness and being a kdrama, I was certain they would find it. Even knowing how it would likely end, I still enjoyed their searching and traversing of the dating battlefield.

Other factors:
predictability Yes
engrish No
originality Yes, actually. The characters were written, acted, and showcased very completely. Instead of a slice of pie, I was able to eat the whole thing and I liked this kind of overeating! It was very satisfying. The story may have been the same-same in the grand scheme of things, but it showed its uniqueness in the details. These people were not only likable, but they felt pretty real, too. Thank goodness for dramas like these.
eye-candy Kim Bum is goooo-ooorgeous (as usual). He looks older and heavier here (in a good way) and I liked this matured look on Bummie more than his Boys Over Flowers jejune playboy role
hair and fashion Appropriate for the characters. I actually really dug Park JinHee’s style, which was no-nonsense professional chic.

is it worth trying to find?

total enjoyment factor 

total disdain factor

why this review is completely biased
I tend to get a bit weak in the knees when it comes to Kim Bum’s prettiness, but more than that, I have a penchant for dramas that feature intelligent and strong-willed women who make their own choices in life rather than waiting for someone else to do the steering.

could a non-kdrama fan like this
I think any strong woman could and would relate to this story. Wanting love doesn’t make you weak, but love alone can’t make you strong. Now I’m waxing philosophical and making no sense. What’s this drama doing to me!?

Another thing I appreciated about Woman was its ability to create situations that were unpredictable but believable, and color their characters sweet but not cavity-inducing. It was disinclined to linger in any one spot too long and continued to briskly pace the story and push forward until the very end, allowing its characters to grow and react to the progression of events. Unnecessary conflicts were not drawn out but met head-on, as smart and independent people would have been expected to do in real life. Like viewers who enjoy a quickly moving plot, these were characters who likewise did not have time to obsess about one little thing for more than a couple of episodes. Unlike its predecessor The Man Who Can't Get Married (aka He Who Can't Marry), the story in Woman felt fluid and thankfully the quirkiness of the characters were endearing and not prone to explosions of annoying. 

Breezy television on the surface, but at its core, a rather meaningful study of modern relationships. It examined the dating and marriage culture in Korea, but these problems felt just as relevant thousands of miles away in another country. In-laws, age, class...at what point does a relationship become too hard? Does marriage have to always be the ultimate goal? Can you date someone without an eye on the end result? What’s wrong with being a single woman? The answer according to this drama: not a damn thing...but if you want love...there’s nothing wrong with that either. A good message. As a viewer, this made the drama engaging to watch but also discussion-worthy. These sixteen episodes flew by—the greatest compliment I could offer to any drama.


  1. Hey again... glad you replied to my comment.. somehow, i almost expected you not to read it.. lol. anyways, i still haven't checked out this drama yet although I have been following the series on dramabeans.. lol.. i had some doubts cuz i'm not exactly 20 yet and i thought it might be too mature for me + he who can't marry was a good series but not overwhelmingly good (i watched it for kim so eun.. lol) but as both of you are praising it, i guess i will check it out.. since I do love dal ja' spring and kim sam soon. and yeah, i was shocked when i saw kim bummie with grey? hair. lol. hes still cute though ever since his days in high kick. and um, i dont really know if you'll enjoy will it snow for christmas.. it IS kinda melo, but in a good way. to tell you the truth, i was too busy being in love with go soo to focus on anything else. lol. call me shallow. and Oh my lady is out! and yea, definitely watching out for What's UP.. are you a Big Bang fan? gosh, this is even longer than the last one. lol

  2. Anonymous, If you liked Dal Ja and Samsoon, definitely you should give Woman Who Still Wants to Marry a try. I didn’t expect much when I started it either but I really ended up liking it. The story premise doesn’t seem all that exciting, I know, but I think the actors really make a difference in this one. Besides, Bum really is completely adorable and dashing here. The total fangirl part of me really enjoyed watching him go all singer-songwriter. (And yup…call me a Big Bang fan indeed…how could I not be!? They’re great!)

  3. Interestingly enough, I checked out this drama just because the story premise reminded me of a top-rated, surprisingly innovative, but funny HKTVB series from 2006.

    I really liked this drama too, but what a shame about its dismal ratings. Just 21 years old, Kim Bum is a standout...I wish many good projects go his way so I could continue to enjoy his work as an actor.

    Thank you.

  4. Without a doubt, I see good things for Kim Bum, too. His performance here really convinced me he has something special, it was his best delivery yet. =)

  5. I watched out this drama because the story premise reminded me of a top-rated, surprisingly innovative, but funny HKTVB series from 2006.I felt it is interested.


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