"Get her to marry you. That's the only option.
Throw away your delusions about women - they're all the same. They can't escape after getting married and having kids."
Squeezing into a busy subway carriage, Deok-hyun (Kim Ju-hyuk) comes face to face a former female work colleague, In-ah (Son Ye-jin), whom he had a major crush on when they worked together. On going for a drink to catch up on old times, they discover that they both have a passion for football (In-ah being a Barcelona fan, Deok-hyun a Real follower) and, almost instantly, Deok-hyun's former feelings are reignited. To his surprise, when the bar closes, In-ah takes him back to her flat for a coffee and, inevitably, they end up sleeping together - thus beginning an ongoing love affair. Over time, Deok-hyun repeatedly tries to convince In-ah to marry him and despite her initial, and repeated, refusals, she eventually relents and the two lovers are wed. However, blissful though their married life appears, a spanner is thrown in the works when In-ah confesses that she loves someone else. Except, she doesn’t want a divorce, but instead wants to marry him too…
Films which feature a reversal of the stereotypical male/female roles within a relationship have become fairly common in South Korean cinema over the last few years, not least in romantic comedies, and such is the case in My Wife Got Married:
In-ah is a strong, confident woman who knows exactly what she wants and, more importantly, what she doesn't. She enjoys sex and is in no way bashful about admitting it, having it or talking about it but, while ongoing (and loving) relationships are important to her, she refuses to allow anyone to simply assume that she belongs to them, and fully believes that love and commitment can exist in more than one relationship at the same time.
Conversely, Deok-hyun is, without doubt, a product of his generation and upbringing. A passive, and rather neurotic, man, he firmly believes the ideals which have been instilled in him throughout his life - find a soul mate, fall in love, get married, settle down and raise a family - and, as such, he simply can't understand (and finds it hard to believe) In-ah's claims that it is possible to love more than one person and commit wholly, and equally, to both.
In-ah's strength of character and determination to do whatever brings her pleasure is a constant source of angst to him, with her regular bouts of staying out late, drinking, and constantly turning off her phone, instantly, and repeatedly, leading him to assume that there can be no explanation other than that she is having an affair (even before she brings up the subject of polygamy), and his monogamous nature, combined with his lack of self-confidence, result in him constantly fearing that he is losing her and that sooner, rather than later, he is likely to get dumped for another man. As a result, his noticeable double standards (he finds In-ah's not wearing a bra sexy before they begin dating, but chastises her for it during their relationship; he sees male friends, and family members, having adulterous affairs and, though it is clear that he doesn't agree with them, he is able (to a degree) to chalk them up to "Well, it happens", while going almost insane when he thinks that In-ah is doing the same, etc.) clearly also play a part in his increasing desperation to convince In-ah to marry him but, to his dismay, that not only fails to sort his problems and ease his fears, but actually multiplies them, almost exponentially.
While a fairly straightforward discussion of monogamy vs. polygamy may initially appear to be the chewy centre of this warm and funny romantic treat, My Wife Got Married is as much a critique of the differing expectations placed on wives and husbands by Korean society, and the respective etiquette each is routinely expected to follow. In-ah and Deok-hyun keep any mention of polygamy from even close relatives (In-ah because she feels it's no-one else's business; and Deok-hyun rather more because of his fear of what others will think, and even embarrassment, to a degree) and, as such, their relationship and marriage is seen by those around them as an ideal to be aspired to.
As the details of other adulterous liaisons of (male) family members and friends are brought into the light of day, My Wife Got Married contrasts outside perceptions of In-Ah and Deok-hyun's, seemingly, perfect marriage (and Deok-hyun's feelings about what's really going on) with the reactions to the illicit affairs of other husbands, and deftly points an accusing finger directly at Korean society's patriarchal nature - most noticeably in Deok-hyun's mother almost taking the side of one of Deok-hyun's male relatives (when she finds out that he has been unfaithful to his wife), rather than perceiving him as simply being the guilty party.
Aside from the themes and underlying commentary present in My Wife Got Married, the film presents itself as a gently amusing, quirky romance. The ongoing football references and analogies within Deok-hyun and In-ah's relationship work well throughout and though there are no truly laugh-out-loud moments, they really aren't part of the film's remit anyway.
It does have to be said that the warmth and success of the humour, and also the believability both of In-ah's polygamist nature and the fallout it causes, are largely thanks to the performances of Son Ye-jin and Kim Ju-hyuk, with a noticeable chemistry between the two drawing viewers further into caring about the characters and the final outcome in their relationship.
The one area of My Wife Got Married which would have benefitted from being tightened up is the pacing, especially in the second half of the film where it slows noticeably, with too much time spent cycling over one particular turn of events in the plot, and over Deok-hyun's repeated attempts to ascertain the truth of the situation. Thankfully, towards the latter stages of the film, the pacing of the plot returns to close to its original level and, by the time the film's conclusion draws near, My Wife Got Married is largely able to re-engage viewers' attention.
Son Ye-jin, as In-ah, gives easily the best performance of all the cast in My Wife Got Married - so much so, in fact, that she deservedly won the Best Leading Actress award for the role at the 29th Blue Dragon Film Awards in 2008. Her portrayal of the head-strong, sexy and full of life character of In-ah is note-perfect throughout and, combined with Kim Ju-hyuk's performance as Deok-hyun, ensures that Deok-hyun's inability to deny In-ah whatever she wants is not only understandable, but also completely and utterly believable throughout the entire running time of the film.
Kim Ju-hyuk may never quite reach as accomplished a level as Son Ye-jin, in his portrayal of Deok-hyun, but he does come pretty close on a number of occasions, ably showing each of Deok-hyun's insecurities, neuroses and paranoia without ever over-stating or over-playing the part.
On the surface, a discussion of monogamy vs. polygamy, My Wife Got Married also serves as a critique, and inversion, of stereotypical male/female roles in relationships, all wrapped up within a gently humourous (albeit, erratically paced) romantic tale.
Son Ye-jin, Kim Ju-hyuk, Joo Sang-wook, Cheon Seong-hun, Oh Woo-jeong, Son Hee-seon, Kim Byeong-chun, Yun Yeong-keol
edition reviewed is the Korean (Region 3) CJ Entertainment Single Disc Edition.
The film itself is
provided as an anamorphic transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and there are no image artifacts (and no ghosting) present.
The original Korean
language soundtrack is provided as a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 and is well balanced throughout.
Excellent subtitles are provided
throughout the main feature but English-speaking viewers should note that, as with many Korean DVD releases, there are no subtitles available on any of the extras.
• Director: Jeong Yoon-soo
• Format: NTSC,
Anamorphic, Widescreen, Subtitled
• Language: Korean
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0
• Region: Region 3
• Aspect Ratio:
• Number of discs: 1
• Classification: Category III (Korean Film Classification)
• Run Time: 119 minutes (approx.)
Halftime: Making Of
Second Half: Music Selection & Deleted Scenes
Overtime: Poster Making, Press Conference, Character Featurette, Music Video