Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 11 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 12 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
The Forbidden Marriage is the latest sageuk in the world of Korean historical dramas with a twist of modern and trendy tropes to garner a wide range of viewers. We have our con artist with a dangerous secret, So-rang scamming King Lee Heon and pretending to be possessed by his late wife so that he can get closure and lift a marriage ban that he had announced after she was murdered.
So, of course, this leads to chaos and hijinks with So-rang trying to not get caught by the King and the two unknowingly falling in love with each other.
We get the usual K-drama tropes as well from the obvious bad guys being the source of all their problems to So-rang’s former fiance and the King’s best friend, Shin-won, starting off 2023 by giving us second-lead syndrome.
We get a good balance of humour and melodrama here too, with So-rang’s very premise of faking her divine powers and the underlying mystery of who killed the King’s wife.
While The Forbidden Marriage takes time to find its groove in this fusion of a genre, from the meme-y sound effects to references to current trends like TikTok and popular K-dramas, it workx out in the end.
Well-fleshed-out characters allow the actors to show range from Kim Young-dae being the grumpy king who easily falls in love to Park Ju-hyun portraying the beguiling con artist who actually is righteousness personified.
However, Jo Soo-min as Hwa-yoon steals the show in the second half with her short screen time as she’s not only clever but strong, standing up for herself and not taking anyone’s nonsense.
Her attitude makes her the perfect foil to Kim Woo-seok’s Shin-won with his quiet and morose persona as he could do with someone who makes him laugh.
Gwang Yi’s character added that little bit of intrigue that the major murder mystery could not give us having revealed the bad guys and all of their actions from the get-go. However, he kept things interesting as it made us wonder if the K-drama will truly fall into the supernatural category or if he just has a knack for correctly predicting the future.
However, it does feel odd that the writers glossed over Hae-young’s feelings for the poor guard Chun-seok by pairing her with Painter Jeong despite their little interaction.
It may or may not have something to do with the fact that Painter Jeong is played by popular rapper Giriboy giving his character unlikely scenarios to make him more important to the plot. We do hope that K-dramas do not ruin their story-telling and succumb to the Knives Out the-most-famous-guy-has-an-obvious-importance trope by moulding the plot around their cast.
And while no K-drama is perfect and one should just enjoy it without looking at the technicalities, it is true that one blunder can sometimes overshadow the entertaining experience. This is seen with the way The Forbidden Marriage loses track of the marriage ban’s purpose. It feels too convenient that the King would blame Cho for the ban when he could have easily lifted it despite not remarrying as the Minister was only targeting his brides.
And sure, we K-drama lovers do love happy endings, but it feels like the conflict was resolved way too quickly in the end.
But all in all, The Forbidden Marriage is a decent rom-com full of light-hearted moments and hilarious incidents that will have you laughing. The overall plot is gripping enough to have viewers hooked as we wait with bated breath for So-rang to escape her scam unscathed with the bad guys infuriating us as we hoped for their downfall.
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Verdict - 7/10