Marry My Husband, Episode 12

Marry My Husband and the Curse Of Episode 12

Most of us felt a definite sinking sensation in our stomach at the end of episode 11, when Yu Ji-hyuk’s ex-fiance walked towards the happy couple and introduced herself to Kang Ji-won.

As experienced drama watchers we knew the cues.

It was in the way Yu Ji-hyuk’s (Na In-woo) face looked apoplectic with rage or the way Kang Ji-won (Park Min-young) looked like a distressed, scared mouse.

Or the way, the ex first introduced her as “his fiance” before belatedly correcting herself.

We knew a show down was inevitable.

But unlike every other very dramatic twist in the story so far, this introduction of a new villain towards the tail end of the show only elicited groans of frustration. What happened to the writing that kept defying expectations for so many weeks?

A Revenge Melo That Felt Fresh

Between Perfect Marriage Revenge and Marry My Husband, drama fans have lately had a taste of melodrama lite. These were dramas with a concept untethered to reality. Revenge that would be impossible in a story about an ordinary woman living in the real world, suddenly becomes deliciously possible when time travel and a second chance is throw in to the mix.

Something that personally endeared these two dramas immediately to me was that the female leads were allowed to be empowered from very early on.

They didn’t have to fight against an unfair world for 15 episodes before finally (grudgingly) getting a happily ever after on the 16th. They knew how the future would unfold and this gave them power and confidence to write their own story, where they were happy right now.

Ji-won accomplished this the moment she woke up ten years in the past by using whatever savings she had left to buy up stocks she knew would skyrocket in this period. This instantly put her in a better financial situation than she was in during her first life when her boyfriend (and future husband/murderer) had used up most of the money she had saved.

Having money in her bank account let her make changes she never had the energy or will to do before. She changed her wardrobe, took risks at work to better her situation, she moved to a new place where boyfriend couldn’t barge in any more.

It Was All Going So Well!

Ji-won’s situation in her second life was vastly improved by her future knowledge. It allowed her to plot her way out of entanglements she couldn’t exit easily before. Like her friendship with Su-min (Song Ha-yoon) or her romantic relationship with Min-hwan (Lee Yi-kyung).

We, as the viewers, loved this. We rarely get to see heroines have such a substantial advantage over their enemies, without the strength quickly being taken away or reduced to mundane uselessness. (See: Strong Girl Nam-soon and how utterly useless her strength was against the society she wanted to change.)

But what was even more delightful was the unhurried pacing of Ji-won’s plots. Her plan hinged on slowly bringing two delightfully evil people together, so each episode gave us ample scenes of Ji-won using her personal insights into these two people and giving them the right nudge at the right time.

Sometimes these nudges were Ji-won leaving them alone a lot, and sometimes they were more insidious, like, when Ji-won told Su-min that she no longer needed to be friends with her because now she would be getting a real family after marrying Minhwan.

The fact that Ji-won was capable of being ruthless in her pursuit of revenge (as well as avoiding a fatal fate) was such a great change from the usual run of beleaguered heroines filling up dramaland.

But Then They Ran Out Of Story In the Drama

This isn’t entirely true. In the webtoon this drama is adapted from there is enough material to fuel at least fourteen episodes. The problem may be that the webtoon’s final quarter doesn’t follow the structure of a drama’s screenplay.

Drama fans are very used to the break up that lands in our lap around episode 11 or 12. This is the “all goes to shit” moment at the end of the second act. The final act from episodes 13 to 16 will build up some of this tension, then solve all problems and give us a satisfying conclusion.

A webtoon’s final stretch often lacks this clear break in acts. While Marry My Husband – the webtoon also has a climactic ending, the ramp up to it is a slow, unhurried unraveling of Su-min and Min-hwan’s marriage.

There is no dramatic break up over a dumb misunderstanding between Ji-hyuk and Ji-won, there is no ex-fiance taking over the crown of most villainous at the last minute, and there is no truck of doom.

The novel may have had some of these elements, but as a webtoon reader who was very happy with the entire story, I would argue there was a good reason these were shed in the adaptation by Studio Lico.

That Accursed Episode 12 Of Marry My Husband

No viewer would argue against writers injecting some good tension into a story. But it’s extremely frustrating to realise that for this crucial part of the drama, there are only a hand full of tropes that writers will keep reusing.

1. The Dreaded Ex

Marry My Husband had done quite a great job of representing women of different character and personality types so far. While Su-min was extreme in her jealousies and possessiveness, she’s still identifiable human. When Ji-won predicted her behaviour based on previous (and future) experiences, the audience could see the patterns too. We began to understand some parts of Su-min, which made the unfolding of her story even more interesting.

Other characters like Joo-ran and Hee-yeon gave us friends Ji-won could make in this life, whom she hadn’t managed to reach out to in her first life. They were diametrically opposite from Su-min, but also distinct people from each other.

So, after getting nearly eleven episodes of positive female friendships, some grey characters trying to be better people, and only one major evil woman, it was an unpleasant shock to the system when the story added yet another evil woman, only with zero shading to make them interesting.

Oh Yu-ra (Kwon BoA) is a rich psychopath. She has never had any affection for Ji-hyuk, until he broke up with her for another woman. Despite never having any feelings for the man, she regularly had women around him beaten up for daring to look at him. In his first life, Ji-hyuk breaks up with Yu-ra a few years down the line, but in this one, he breaks the engagement as soon as he realises his feelings for Ji-won.

She’s a character whose shadowy existence makes Ji-hyuk’s backstory richer. However, bringing her to the foreground only exposes weaknesses in the writing. Especially, when the real antagonists of the story – Min-hwan and Su-min – have been fleshed out even better than the heroes.

2. The Breakup

Much like Seo Do-guk and Han Yi-joo in Perfect Marriage Revenge, Ji-hyuk and Ji-won were partners experiencing something unique together – a second chance in life.

Their perfect understanding, even before they knew each other’s secret, was what made their teamwork so much fun. Yes, Ji-hyuk lacked much in the way of interests or even joy outside his role as Ji-won’s helper and protector, but his affection for and sincerity towards her was clear.

So, it was particularly galling to watch Ji-won tell Ji-hyuk that “a relationship can never be ended one-sided because the other side will be left in pain”.


a) You broke up with your toxic boyfriend in an extremely one-sided way (may we remind you of his body writhing on the ground in pain?)!

b) Ji-hyuk came back into an old toxic relationship, exactly as you did after your time travel back a decade, and then had the good sense to end it quickly.

c) Why do you get a redo but not Ji-hyuk?

d) What do you MEAN a relationship can’t be ended “one-sided”? Not accepting it when your partner ends things with you is how stalking charges happen!

3. Truck of Doom

Now, I’m not wholly opposed to this turn of events. The drama had to figure out a way to resolve the specter of death hanging over Ji-hyuk and it may as well be this way.

But it’s the pairing of the inexplicable break up with the hero martyring himself for Ji-won that makes this unforgivably tropey.

Because I will bet you every Kim Tan meme on the internet that Ji-won’s resolve to leave Ji-hyuk will break after his near death experience. We have seen this play out again and again. When a story doesn’t know how to change the heroine’s mind about a break up, the hero just has to get hurt (or pretend to) to make her confess her love at his bedside and forgive him all sins.

This many old tropes in one episode is especially annoying when so far we’ve had a very openly communicative leading pair.

4. Mom Abandoned Me

Marry My Husband, Ji-won and her mom

Parental abandonment in K-dramas is rampant, but there are tragic societal reasons behind its origins. There was decades of crushing poverty, social censure against single mothers, decades of government supported programs that enabled quick foreign adoptions.

In 1988, the Korean government asked adoption agencies to stop sending babies overseas until after the Summer Olympics in Seoul were completed, so it could present a deflated number of children adopted out of Korea. At that time, 60 percent of the 10,000 foreign children adopted annually by American parents hailed from South Korea.

– Jae-ha Kim, K-drama Adoption Storylines Are Making Positive Strides, But There’s More Work to Do

While South Koreans are still grappling with the larger social reasons behind child abandonment in society, dramas are only interested in a narrow set of reasons which effectively villainize the parents and leave no room for sympathy.

In dramaland, fathers abandon their family because of their gambling and drinking habits or because they fell in love with another woman. Mothers abandoned their families because they got tired of being poor and abused, they fell in love, or they had ambitions.

At one point, Ji-won laments that although her mother endured twelve years of marriage to a man she didn’t love for the sake of her daughter, it wasn’t enough because when she walked away, she still caused pain.

This is perfectly natural way for a daughter to feel about her mother’s choice to leave. It also tells us that she believed her mom stayed with them because of her. But then her mother suddenly turns up a few scenes later, and in a very ham-handed sequence, loudly admits to never having liked her own child.

The drama doesn’t spare a moment to explore the dissonance between what Ji-won believed and what her mother stated. It’s too busy quickly painting the woman in the blackest shade of irredeemable and running off to the next scene.

Now, I remember this sequence from the webtoon clearly. Her mother suddenly contacts her and wants to make amends, which briefly lulls Ji-won into believing that she may get one parent back in her life. But then she realises that this was all a way to extort some money out of her because her mother’s boyfriend was going bankrupt. It was a heartbreaking moment for her, but she walked away without giving in to the emotional blackmail.

While the beats are the same, the drama tried to milk the scenes for far more trauma payoff, except they hadn’t set the emotional stakes up properly.

For instance, in the middle of their confrontation, Ji-won suddenly declares that the only reason she was vulnerable to Su-min and Min-hwan was because she didn’t have a mother to teach her self respect.

Did we know Ji-won thought this way?

Having two excellent parents in my life never did a thing to solve the crippling anxiety that chased me into my twenties, but let’s say Ji-won has believed this to be true for a while. We only got to learn of it in a throw away line in this one episode.

Much like Ji-won suddenly taking an exception to Ji-hyuk having had a fiance because she hates cheaters, her stance on her mother is also brand new information that the drama never thought to set up for us before.

Since both matters underscore deep wounds Ji-won is carrying in her heart, they should have been clearly hinted at before. As things stand, we experienced this episode like we were meeting an entirely new Ji-won.

And none of us liked her.

Untangling That Tangle

Of course, there was a way to structure this episode a lot better.

Kang Ji-won of the first eleven episodes was a lead who was vanquishing foes whose moves she knew like the back of her hand. Episode 12 is the first time she faced opposition she didn’t know how to tackle.

When the source of Ji-won’s confidence – her fore-knowledge – is taken away, it stands to reason that she may curl back into her familiar shell of insecurity for a while. She may need a bit of time to remember that Ji-hyuk is going through a second life and deserves to break up with a partner he doesn’t want a future with.

Once Yu-ra starts to show her claws, Ji-won should ideally find her footing after so many rounds of going toe to toe with Su-min. This would be a good time for Ji-hyuk and Ji-won to join forces again and tackle the new threat together, quickly.

No break ups needed and we still get an episode of enjoying Ji-won’s growth as a person.

A character like Yu-ra should never have been elevated to main villain level, when her existence was so out of left field. Not only did the break up make Ji-won look like a fool, Ji-hyuk’s grandfather’s positive endorsement of a woman who sends goons to beat up other women makes the old man look like a sadist who enjoys torturing his grandson.

The episode wraps up with Ji-hyuk sacrificing himself in slow motion to save Ji-won from the truck of doom.

While I’m pretty sure our hero will survive, I don’t know if my interest in the remaining drama will. Marry My Husband gets exactly one more week to bring this wreck back from the dead.

Use Su-min and Min-hwan for the love of all that is evil! Theirs were the only watchable scenes in the last episode.

When Min-hwan learns about Su-min’s miscarriage, he even gets a moment when he sheds a few tears alone. That was such a great scene, letting us absorb the idea that this selfish man can feel such a loss.

However, the very next scene where Su-min compares her non-existent baby with Min-hwan’s non-existent house was even better. If the drama just lets us watch these two unravel inside their ridiculous marriage, it would still be a great show. Please! 제발! Stick the landing, Marry My Husband.

10 thoughts on “Marry My Husband and the Curse Of Episode 12”

  1. I’m at the point where I see the white truck of doom and I can’t help but laugh. Now, instead of the arm suddenly coming into view to stop a slap, the Land Rover comes out of nowhere to stop the WTOD collision. Jihyuk desperately needs a better and more complete backstory. To throw in a forgettable ex fiance feels a little cheap to me. I hope this doesn’t become completely convoluted.

    1. Ji-hyuk is pretty underdeveloped as a stand-alone character. If we compare the character arcs of the male leads in Perfect Marriage Revenge and Marry My Husband, I think we’ll find that Seo Do-guk could exist outside of Han Yi-ju’s story, but Yu Ji-hyuk can’t exist without Kang Ji-won.

      So, it’s unsurprising that a bitter ex is the best the show could give him cause that’s the level they’ve written him at. However, to be fair to the screenwriters, the drama’s Yu Ji-hyuk has more of a backstory and his motivations are more fleshed out than his webtoon version.

      Anyway, waiting to see if the drama can make a comeback from last week now. 🤞

  2. Ah, wait, so it’s not over? Thank God! I thought it was only 12 episodes, and I was losing my mind. I kept looking up “Season Two MMH.” That’s funny.

    I was genuinely shocked when I saw the ToD because the show had been so engrossing.

    1. Hahaha. Did the ending of ep 12 feel like a season ender? (Or did my post make you think it ended? 😅) It’s kind of bizarre what a hodgepodge of random tropes they threw on to this episode. Really hoping for a good save this week.

  3. I really enjoyed watching Su-min’s meltdown in Episode 12. She’s a horrible person, but no one is going to walk all over her. I’m having the same problem that I did with Perfect Marriage Revenge, the heroine becomes so self-righteous at the end that she’s cruel. Revenge is dish best served cold and with a sprinkle of humility.

    1. You know, I’ve always found Ji-won’s plan to push her fate on to Sumin an extremely cruel revenge. We forget that while Sumin betrayed her, Minhwan was the one to kill her, and he was the one cashing out on her illness. It’s jarring to see that Ji-won never questions her path once she decides that her illness and years of domestic abuse can be pushed on to someone else. Which is why I love the twist when her illness doesn’t go to Sumin but to Juran. I seriously resent the random additions to last week’s plot because it took attention away from her realising that she has no control over who her terrible life would go to. That was excellent and should have been given more screen time for the audience to absorb. 🙈

      1. Thank you! I feel like the writers don’t think this is a problem. When they first spelled out the issue of fates going to other people, it is like you can plan for all of it. And Ji-Won seems to keep playing that game. As if she has any kind of real control.

        1. The writers didn’t seem interested in the moral dilemma but the screenplay adapters were definitely aware of how little their protag knew about the rules of this life redo.
          Ji-won’s delusion of control was part of what was fun (always assuming that the story knew what it was doing) and I had been waiting for the drama to finally drop the other shoe. All of her theories were built on the idea that she could control who “stepped into her shoes” in this life, yet the story gave us ample hints of agency and unpredictability which Ji-won kept ignoring. (Like all of the times when Ju-ran said something about her life that made Ji-won pause in recognition but she brushed it off).
          Oof. That build up was going so well! Until they hijacked and undercut its development with a nonsense filler conflict with the ex. Gah. 🙈

  4. I’m slowly making my way through this drama. Usually I like a show based on a webtoon or novel but this drama shows how scant (I almost said “unfleshed!”!) the original text is. I think readers’ thoughts create most of the text that accompanies the web drawing. I am a total sucker for a rebirth story, especially when more than one character are reborn – I may write a novel called “A transmigrator and a reincarnator walk into a bar” – but only when actual behavioral change occurs. Our heroine may have money and ability to recognize a scumbag but she still can’t read a relationship. I’m actually becoming more interested in Su Min!

    1. I’ve been so blown away with the drama adaptation until this week because the screenwriters did such a great job putting meat on the bones of the webtoon. They fleshed out backstories, side characters, our protagonist, but most amazingly, our antagonists. I’ve found their work on Sumin and Minhwan the most exhilarating. They terrify me as individuals and certainly together. It’s so hard to create this level of casual menace in a single character and they managed it in two. Which is exactly why I’m so mad at them wasting the momentum of the story of very unwelcome 12th episode shenanigans. 🙈😅

      Btw Humble! That’s an epic time travel title and I demand it be written immediately. 🔥 I hadn’t thought about it, but ofc you’re right, Jiwon and Jihyuk are transmigrators. It would be amazing to read about a character who gets a second life and travels back and another who’s born into their next life meeting! Yes, please write it! 💚

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