Hello, fellow kdrama lovers. I’ve been looking for a kdrama to recap, something that’s captivating and perhaps under represented. I believe I’ve found just that in My Beautiful Bride, OCN’s newest weekend drama. I am not familiar with actor Kim Moo-yul, but so far, I am pleasantly surprised with his portrayal of the male lead, Kim Do Hyung, and that’s a good thing. So, I am taking the plunge for 16 episodes, glad you’re on board!
My Beautiful Bride 아름다운 나의 신부 ~ Ep 1
Illegal loan shark marketing 101: The dark and dirty underworld of loan sharks, aka bottom feeders, knows no boundaries when it comes to debt collection practices. Money easily loaned out has an expiration date. Mercy? None. In reality, loan sharks are only puppets to “the problem solvers,” or “Shadows,” as they are known by the police. Shadows appear for the final determinations, after all manner of unthinkable methods have failed to produce the borrowed money. Ultimately, those who remain debtors all meet the same fate and become involuntary organ donors. Welcome to My Beautiful Bride, a thriller, suspense melodrama that has earned its genre in the first three minutes.
A woman in heels and a sequenced dress moves quickly to a telephone booth and makes a frantic call. She tips off the police as to the whereabouts of Song Hak Soo, the powerful Boss behind the Shadows, who they have been trying to track down without success. He puts up a violent resistance (I could’ve done without the fork in the eye), but in the end is arrested and sentenced to ten years in the slammer. With that, police partners Seo Jin-Gi and Park Heong Sik, who have worked long and hard for this day, believe they’ve seen the last of this crime organization.
[2015 – present day]
A man in a suit riding a bike stops at a jewelry store. He selects a gorgeous diamond ring and makes his way to a coffee shop where he meets a woman for an arranged blind date. After a painful silence, she makes chatty small talk until he tells her there is someone he is going to propose to and marry. He ducks as she flings a much deserved glass of water at him.
He bikes on down the road to another cafe and calls out to a woman sitting there, “Joo Young!” She greets him, “Mr. Banker, you’re late.” She hops on the back of his bike and he takes her to an unknown destination which turns out to be her family’s apartment. After giving him every excuse in the book as to why they can’t go in, he informs her that he has already called her brother and the family is expecting them. Mother is thrilled that Kim Do Hyung has asked her daughter, Joo Young, to marry him. Joo Young’s brother says it’s about time since they live together, anyway. The only one who seems reserved is Joo Young. Later, she tells Do Hyung that she is okay with the way they are living. He says he is not. She says his mother will never approve. He says he doesn’t care. Do Hyung presents her with the box and tells her to open it. “Will you be my beautiful bride?” Although a bit stiff, he seems genuine.
That night Joo Young tells her mother that she hasn’t made up her mind, yet. Mother loses it and calls her daughter a total nut – he’s the best groom material, after all – and what if he finds out her past? Do Hyung makes a goodnight call to Joo Young. He compliments her on the food she’s prepared and stacked in the fridge. She asks, “Do you trust me?” When he tells her of course he does, she continues, “I have something to tell you.” She asks for a little time and he agrees. Something seems off for both of them.
That’s some tattooed back and one shower scene I can do without. Song Hak Soo conducts business as usual from his prison cell. A lackey hands him pictures of “that bitch” to which Song Hak Soo takes offense. The pictures are of his woman with another man. He sits in his cell and tears a picture into tiny pieces.
Kim Do Hyung’s morning routine consists of a rigorous treadmill run, biking to work in a suit, and standing with eyes closed as he deeply inhales the scent of money at the entrance of Shin Gook Bank. Do Hyung is the laughing-stock of the employees for his quirky behavior. Manager Shin meets him and together they head to the General Manager’s office for the day’s briefing. There is pressure by his boss to handle a client with late payments and business woes. Do Hyung makes no bones with their bank’s client. Harsh, uncomfortable, measures are taken to cut losses, including a lien on his personal apartment.
Yoon Joo Young’s co-worker asks her to go to lunch, but she says she is not feeling well. She takes out an ultrasound picture – she is five weeks pregnant. On second thought, she joins her co-worker for lunch and tells her she is getting married. “That banker guy? Congrats!”
Do Hyung is on his way to check on suspicions he has of another client, Seryo Construction. Instead, the General Manager tells him to wine and dine Mr. Park, representative of the construction corporation. Doesn’t he know Seryo Construction could decide to change banks? Do Hyung has no choice but to call Park Joon Beom, who happens to be right in the middle of turning the thumb screws on the desperate bank client Do Hyung met with earlier. He has gone to Mr. Park, clearly a loan shark under the guise of Seryo Construction, for an extension on his loan. When he received a call from Do Hyung, Mr. Park runs out to meet him. But, rather than taking him for drinks, Do Hyung brings him an expensive cake. Expecting a bribe, Mr. Park is baffled: after Do Hyung leaves, he rips apart the cake, and it is just that – a cake. Do Hyung is an odd character, indeed.
Having made up her mind, Joo Young goes home early to their apartment and calls her groom to get carry-out chicken on his way home from work. It is a happy moment between them.
Do Hyung gets a call on his way home. “Who is it?” he asks.
As Joo Young prepares tofu her phone rings. She ignores it. It rings again. She stares at the phone, shocked.
Do Hyung’s expression is dark when he picks up the chicken. He parks his bike, takes the elevator, and enters their apartment. He flips on the lights and calls out, “Joo Young?” The engagement ring is on the counter. He searches the rooms. He dials her number: The phone is turned off.
Then next day at work, Manager Shin sees Do Hyung’s empty desk and mumbles that he can’t believe he is taking a day off. He first stops at Joo Young’s work. Her co-worker tells him she is not in, maybe she’s sick? She offers Do Hyung her congratulations, she’s heard they are getting married, and asks if they’ve set a date. He is surprised that Joo Young told her co-worker. Next, he stops at Joo Young’s mother’s apartment. No one has any clue where she might be.
There is a flash scene. Do Hyung slams someone’s head through a car window and runs down a narrow street. A car speeds away. As he races towards the apartment, he lets out a howling yell.
[Fourth day missing]
With heavy steps, a dazed Do Hyung enters the police station. He wants to report a missing person. Detective Kim barely looks up from his desk. “Child or adult?” he asks. “Adult.” He hands Do Hyung a “Runaway Report Form,” and explains that adults are categorized as runaway until after five years when the courts file them as missing. “You’re not family?” he asks, looking over the form. Do Hyung calls the brother. Detective Kim’s bedside manner leaves much to be desired as he casually suggests that Do Hyung go home and wait for her, she may have taken a few days off, it’s pretty common. Do Hyung has a mental breakdown, grabs Detective Kim, and yells, “Joo Young is missing.” Other police have to pull him off and calm him down.
The brother arrives at the station, registers Joo Young as missing, and takes Do Hyung back to the house for a drink. Sister-in-law holds a pregnancy test result in her hands: it’s positive. But, brother doesn’t have to worry, she tells him, it’s not her – it’s Joo Young. Do Hyung walks over and stares at the test. “You knew, right? asks the brother. “I knew,” Do Hyung answers.
As Do Hyung walks home he wonders, “Is that what you wanted to tell me? Where are you, Joo Young?”
Do Hyung assembles a baby crib in their apartment. A tear rolls down his cheek.
At the police station, Cha Yoon Mi gives special attention to Yoon Joo Young’s missing person case. She has a flashback to a scene during the sting operation where she met a woman. She tells Detective Kim to get ready to investigate. The next morning, Do Hyung’s doorbell rings. He opens the door. Detectives Cha, Kim, and Ko are there to ask questions about his missing fiancé.
- That was quite a series of events that stack up pretty solidly. The circle of money is actually very small, its line blurred with legal and illegal crossings.
- I described Do Hyung as stiff, but genuine – to the point of putting together a baby crib – and that really won me over (he looked hauntingly handsome in that scene). There’s something else, however, something unsettled in his make-up that I can’t put my finger on just yet. He promises to be a deep character.
- I am impressed with the pace and the direction of the story. While I am not usually a thriller, suspense drama seeker, I find this keeps my attention, and even I can surmise that Joo Young was the woman in the heels and sequenced dress. The jail bars are rattling.
- The phone call that Do Hyung received set him off and something big happened between the time he got the call and picked up the chicken. What (or who) does he know?
- What do you think, is this a keeper?
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