The Perfect Marriage(s)
Episode 1 of Love in Contract begins with Choi Sang-Eun happy and content with her life. She has a loving husband who’s handsome and a good cook. But the best thing? Well, he respects her occupation. So what is that job?
Well, it turns out Sang-Eun works within the marriage industry. She’s basically like an escort, working to better others’ lives by pretending to be married to various men who sign a contract. Her clients are all unmarried men needing her help to escort them to big business meetings or other events. Thus, Single Life Helper was developed.
Sang-Eun is something of a chameleon, managing to master a number of different hobbies and styles to slip into the role of being a perfect wife. However, it’s not all about money for her though; Sang-Eun has also had clients in the past she’s genuinely wanted to help out.
Sang-Eun is a 13 year vet in the industry, and has strict rules about not having more than one husband at a time. It’s all going swimmingly but as Sang-Hun hits her 30’s… is she just saying that? Does she want more from life?
Sang-Hn is actually living with her gay bestie, Gwang-Nam, who also happens to be one of her ex-husbands and now her roommate. He calls her noona and they get along really wel.
As for Sang-Eun, she heads out to her Monday/Wednesday/Friday’s client, a guy called Jung Ji-Ho. She likes having him as a client given he pays well and he respects her. They’ve been married for five years and in that time he’s said about 50 words to her.
The set-up is always the same for when they meet but for Ji-Ho, his lack of discourse and quiet demeanour make him a mysterious client and someone whom she can’t quite figure out. They eat dinner silently. He seems sincere but is there more to this man than a pretty face and good cooking?
Well, that night Ji-Ho ends up searching through her social media profile and… brandishing a knife? Oh dear. He’s also pretty abrupt too, and although he knows his stuff, isn’t very empathetic to others’ needs. Some of this could be linked to the past, especially when he heads out to a restaurant (belittling the owner and her food) and notices a woman walk past.
Ji-Ho attends a meeting to help with his social skills. With no one else to test it on, he contemplates whether to take the next step with Sang-Eun and actually talk to her.
We then skip across and meet Kang Hae-Jin an actor working on a soapy drama with a woman called Yu-Mi. The end of their dialogue sees her slap him across the face, leaving a pretty gnarly red mark on his cheek. He’s been disinterested in women since his first love, but he’s an icon and wanted by many ladies.
As for Sang-Eun, her job brings up a litany of different issues, namely that of seeing her former family-in-law members or being recognized in different venues. She has ties to a woman called Madam Yoo Mi-Ho as well, who calls her Jamie.
Sang-Eun was raised by this woman, and saved up all her money to pay her back for the debt of being raised. “Stop sending me money now.” Yoo says coldly. This woman used to take all of Sang-Eun’s money from her from the last 13 years but now, they’re severing ties. For good, one would assume, especially as Madam Yoo messages one last time after their meet to inform her that she’s erasing the woman’s number.
Sang-Eun walks away, flashes of her troubled past rattling around in her head, as she heads to her next client. Once there, she’s propped up as the role of wife/mum but she’s not too happy about that, especially when Sang-Eun’s arrival causes the girl to begin crying up on stage, wanting her real mum present.
It’s too much for Sang-Eun and she decides to leaves, pointing out that the brash man has misinterpreted their contract. When he attempts to slap her, Sang-Eun turns and almost kicks him in the face, her heel inches from his face.
That night, Ji-Ho rings and attempts to start a conversation with Sang-Eun. Unfortunately it’s stiff and awkward, with him firing off these questions like a proper interview. Eventually he finds Squid Game as a topic to discuss. After he hangs up, the attention turns back to Sang-Eun and her roommate Gwang-Nam, who attempts to approach Kang Hae-Jin at a club, which ends in disaster
The pair make a decision that night, with Sang-Eun needing to break things off with “Mr Money” in order to live her dreams and head to Canada for a fresh start. Only, she has difficulty doing so, especially given all the amazing dishes Ji-Ho keeps making for her. Unfortunately, she puts it off so the big day arrives.
Funnily enough, this happens to be the day that Ji-Ho opens up and talks to her. He brings up the familiar poem about blades of grass that Gwang-Nam mentioned the previous night. As a result, her wavering heart stops and she decides to give him the best gift… a divorce. Only, he actually comes up with the idea himself and catches her off-guard.
During the epilogue, we learn that Sang-Eun actually keeps Sundays to herself so she can have some me-time. She shows up at the kindergarten and drops some stars on Min-Ju’s work, the girl who cried up on stage before. She drops to her knees, hands over a little star for her and smiles warmly.
The Episode Review
The first episode of Love In Contract gets off to a really solid start with a decent premise and some intriguing characters. The soundtrack in this is excellent so far too, while Park Min-Young is as charming as ever. I’m not quite sure how
Kang Hae-Jin is going to fit into this, but it’s clear he’s going to be the second lead.
So far, the chemistry between Ji-Ho and Sang-Eun is pretty good and I’m much more invested in their ties than I am with Hae-Jin. Still, we’ll have to wait and see what this show has in store for us moving forward.
There’s a lot to like with this though and ending definitely hints that we’ll be learning more about Hae-Jin in the upcoming episodes.