Bride of the Century just gets juicer and juicer with time! It’s a drama about identity swap and I’ve seen it all before in the TW-drama King Flower where not only was there an identity swap storyline, but the male leads also had a switcheroo. BOTC is basically KF with a ghostly element and that the two identity swappers are alive. They are essentially the same drama but somehow watching two unlikely people fall for each other always gets to me. Despite this premises being done to death, I just couldn’t help myself but fall in love with the drama more and more with time! This drama is so clichéd but everything works so seamlessly for it and that is what makes this drama a well-worth watching experience.
I don’t know how this drama does it, but I love it! Despite hearing many good things about it, I went in without any expectations. Other than Lee Hong Ki, I have no idea who the other actors are and the plot sounds very much like something that I have seen before. BOTC wasn’t meant to work but somehow it just works. There’s no explanation as to how all this came together but it works and that is good enough for me to know, because if it works then it makes a good drama. And that is exactly what BOTC is. There is so much angst here but definitely not melo as it is diluted with the cute romance by Na Doo Rim (Yang Ji Sung) and Choi Kang Joo (Hong Ki). I love the balance of feelings here, with the mothers behind the scheming while Doo Rim and Kang Ju are out of the known and finding their hearts falling for one another.
It was fun to watch Kang Joo and Doo Rim fall in love with one another. Watching them fall in love is like eating chocolate. It’s deliciously sweet and something that you cannot get enough of, and it’s pretty cute too. They were in the marriage for the sake of a business transaction but who would have knew they would fall truly in love with one another? It was constant bickering for them but it was due to their constant bickering which allowed their true personalities to show through and this in turn allowed to better understand one another and realise how compatible they are for one another. Even though Doo Rim was technically playing the role of Yi Kyung, her tenderness and determination showed through and that really caught Kang Joo’s attention, touching both his heart and mind. I love how he takes what she says into consideration. He vulnerability also showed through and the more he fell for her, the more determined he was to protect her from the dangers that she has to face. He just wants her to be safe from harm and I guess this was the reason he didn’t chase after her when she just disappeared out of his life. He just knew somewhere at the back of his mind that she was safe and that was what he really wanted for her.
I think the writers did a really god job in writing out the separation phase for the OTP. Even if it is overused, it was nicely written. It served as the last obstacle for the OTP to overcome and I like that it wasn’t used as just a final trope to blossom the romance between Kang Joo and Doo Rim. Instead, it was used as a way to tie up some of the loose ends and allowed Kang Joo and Doo Rim to discover themselves what it means to be in love. Doo Rim was the one who took a step back in their relationship, giving everyone time to come to their own realisations as to where they should step foot to next. For Kang Joo’s father, it gave him the time that he needed to realise that he has always loved Kang Joo’s mother but this love was overshadowed by the love that he constantly carried for his first love. It allowed Kang Joo’s mother to let go and see a different side to love while for Mama Ma to repent for her wrongdoings. For the OTP, the separation was not necessary but Kang Joo handled it in a very mature way. He loves Doo Rim and he misses her but he respects her decision and used this time to become a better man. He only went to search for her after everything fell back in its place of how it used to be, daring himself to chase after his heart.
The plot is definitely overused, there’s no doubt about that but I loved the various elements added to it to freshen it up. The ghost was an interesting touch to the plot. It was nicely used to bring out the story behind the first bride curse and best of all she got her own happy ending even though when she was human her story wasn’t as happy. I thought she was initially there to purely play matchmaker to Kang Joo and Doo Rim but the way her story unravelled was done so elegantly and eloquently. At first she was just a matchmaker to Kang Joo and Doo Rim, but the more they fell for one another, the more that we learnt that she isn’t just an ordinary matchmaker ghost. She is Byul, the Choi family ghost.
One of my favourite aspects of the drama would have to be the first bride curse and family ghost story. That is the heart of the story and without it, Kang Joo and Doo Rim would have never found each other. I love this supernatural element; which served as the backdrop for the drama which telling its own story. I loved it, especially with how the various connections came about. It turns out there was never any first bride curse but rather it only became a curse after the story was passed down through the many generations. It was interesting that Doo Rim’s granny was the first bride of the Choi family, except she wasn’t really because she fled the moment she was able to. It was just as well because otherwise Kang Joo and Doo Rim would have never found each other.
One of the letdowns of the drama was that a lot of the characters who could have been so much more were not because the drama sort of forgot about them as it neared the finish line. There was Kang Joo’s younger brother Kang In who only appeared in the drama for total of five eps. His story with his girlfriend was only half-told because he apparently has a crush on Lee Roo Mi (Jang Ah Young). Say what? Roo Mi is your bitchy second female lead but when she turned cool and awesome in the second half of the drama, her screentime decreased dramatically. This was the same case with Yi Kyung and Doo Rim’s oppa, Jang Ji Hyun (Sung Hyuk), who got neglected to the side after his coma and crush on Doo Rim. There was also Secretary Kim (Kang Pil Seon) and Oh Jin Joo (Park Jin Joo)’s romance which just died off. While this happens to a lot of dramas, I don’t think it would have hurt for BOTC to have kept a few characters more central to the storyline until the very end, namely Roo Mi and Ji Hyun. I would have loved to see more from them.
Yi Hyun moves faster than the speed of light. Proposal after a few days of meeting Doo Rim, say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? This, add on to the fact that Doo Rim looks exactly like his little sister, urgh. I was so shocked by his quick movements but then I soon realised that he, like Kang Joo, is lonely but Doo Rim was able to give him the sense of being loved. He lost his own mother back when he was very young and that had a big impact in his life. Even though he has Mama Ma and Yi Kyung, he never felt any warmth from their love. Maybe this is work Yi Hyun works with Mama Ma more as a subordinate than as her son. It wasn’t until Doo Rim walked into his life that he felt that sense of warmth that he lacked in his life. During the brief time from when he met her, she radiated his world and immediately warmed up his otherwise cold life. She suddenly became the person he wants to protect and hold onto forever.
The scheming mothers are just uuurrrrrggggghhhh but they drive the drama. While the drama is about Doo Rim and Kang Ju’s love story, without the scheming mothers behind their back, the drama would be nothing more than a piece of paper. They are the ones who keep Doo Rim and Kang Ju’s relationship fresh by constantly throwing in new tactics to achieve what they want. Ultimately, the two mothers have the same goal which is to establish that first bride to sacrifice so the one who they want to be Kang Ju’s bride will be safe from the curse and they proceeded on a parallel path but using very different strategies. They’re both villainous mothers and I can’t even decide who is the more evil one, when really what they are strategising is for none other than the better of themselves. In the end though, Mama Ma takes the icing on the cake being the more evil mother because she was willing to go all out and place everything on the line. But in the end both mothers got their retribution for their wrongdoings and that’s all that matters. President Ma sought out penance and earned Doo Rim’s forgiveness for her wrongdoings and finally accepted that what she did was wrong. Similarly, Yi Kyung also received her punishment. She turned over a new leaf in realising that what she did to Doo Rim was wrong, letting go of all the feisty-ness inside of her. In order to move on, one must let go and forgive and that was key here. After they were able to let go and forgive themselves, they were able to move on and that’s the true power of letting go and forgiveness.
This drama was so fun to watch despite how ridiculous it sounds. It was just everything that I didn’t expect. Watching Kang Joo and Doo Rim fall for each other was so fun. Everything went against them but they still managed to break through all odds and find themselves with one another. They are perfect for one another with Kang Joo doing his very best to protect Doo Rim and Doo Rim’s warmth radiating through everything even with the constant threat of her true identity being unveiled. It was such a fun ride watching them two snuggle up to one another. BOTC was just everything that it was not supposed to be. It was a surprise hit for me and ended up being a winner from start to end!
Click here to watch Bride of the Century.
[Credits: Pictures from here]