The Matchmakers – K-drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

I have not fallen for you

Episode 1 of The Matchmakers begins with a prelude on Joseon matchmakers – they can recognise nuptial ties, are rare and can also match people unknowingly. Matchmakers also live short lives and are mostly widows.

Jung Soon-deok is 27 and Left State Minister Jo’s second daughter-in-law. She leads a double life as a successful matchmaker as she has the ability to recognize fate. She is called Yeojudaek for her guaranteed results.

Then we have the righteous, smart and steadfast Shim Jung-woo who is the youngest to rank #1 in the State Exam and dreams of being Chief State Minister. His dreams are squashed as the princess falls for him and a prince cannot take public office. To make matters worse, the princess dies in the middle of their wedding ceremony. Now known as Prince Gyeong, Jung-woo cannot remarry or have concubines. 

It cuts to 8 years later. The city matchmakers wonder if the marriage prohibition will finally take place. It is a temporary marriage ban till the Crown Prince chooses his wife. But no one wants to be chosen as the Crown Prince is bound to die and make his consort a widow. However, Soon-deok believes there will be no prohibition.

The court is trying to cancel the marriage prohibition because of a virgin ghost story which is causing resentment. The King sees through their ruse as he knows that they won’t let the Crown Prince marry and produce an heir as the ministers, led by Left State Minister Jo are backing the second prince. While Jo is hellbent on getting rid of the Crown Prince before next year, the King plans on getting him married this year itself.

The solution comes from the Queen who suggests asking The Resentful Man aka Jung-woo. He is feared and revered by everyone. He has been working on a letter of petition consistently for 8 years to get out of his widower status. And in his quest to get out of loopholes, he has memorised all rules and regulations which he uses to fire incompetent officials.

The Chief Royal Secretary confesses to the King that Jung-woo is part of Jo’s Dongno Party and is the one who came up with the virgin ghost story. He suggests asking Jung-woo to help the Crown Prince get married. If he fails, it will affect the influence of Dongno Party which is a win-win for the King.

Meanwhile, Soon-deok is brought in to mediate an already arranged union between the Song and Lee families. On seeing that the daughter is in love with someone else and the fact that both families have controlling mothers, she gets the marriage called off with fake reasons. She loses the money she would have made in confirming the match but believes the couple would have been miserable. 

Jung-woo is out strolling when his chest starts hurting when women look at him. He decides to hide behind a fan but runs into Soon-deok. A delivery boy almost crashes into him but she saves him and catches him in her arms. They lock eyes before she leaves and he is stunned.

Jung-woo then visits his usual bookseller when he accidentally finds an erotic book. He is curious and as he reads, he imagines Soon-deok with her husband. He starts blushing till he is interrupted by the bookseller. He pretends that the book is mocking nobility and he must read further to check if there is anything offensive to report it.

Soon-deok shows up and the bookseller runs off. Jung-woo and Soon-deok banter over the technicalities and he demands her personal details for defending the book. By teasing him that he has fallen in love with her, she gets a chance to run off with it.

He tries to get his attendant, Oh Bong to run after her but scolds him for being tired. Oh Bong suggests he is sleepy because he is a newly-wed but Jung-woo is clueless. As Bong hints at his nightly proclivities with his wife, Jung-woo’s chest starts hurting again.

Soon-deok gives the book to a customer who wonders if the author Hwa Rok is a worldly scholar. Soon-deok boasts that she raised him and it cuts to Hwa Rok, a woman dressed as a man, raggedly trying to write the perfect erotica. 

Soon-deok realises she is late and rushes home while removing her makeup and changing her outfit. She sneaks in by jumping over the wall while the Madam of the house is suspicious about her whereabouts. Her sister-in-law, Ye-jin tries to protect her but they find Soon-deok “asleep”. She says she was making clothes for her father-in-law and her husband but since she is sick, she passed out. 

Outside, the Madam, Jo’s wife discusses their daughter, Ye-jin’s impending marriage. Meanwhile, Ye-jin worries for Soon-deok, wondering why she risks her life for a lowly job. Soon-deok says it causes her satisfaction and Ye-jin jumps on that by saying she needs her help breaking off her marriage. The groom is a player and if Soon-deok doesn’t help her, she will tell her mother about Soon-deok’s secret.

As for poor Jung-woo, flustered by the erotica, he decides to write a petition to ban it for mocking nobility. But every time he mentions Soon-deok, his chest hurts and he keeps messing up the letter. He goes to the doctor who thinks it is due to his experience clashing with his steadfast beliefs. 

Soon-deok and Hwa Rok are discussing the sequel in the book shop when Jung-woo stomps over, demanding to meet her. Soon-deok guesses that Jung-woo just wants to read the book and agrees to meet. She is about to give him the book when he suddenly announces that he is in love with her. Everyone is speechless including Jung-woo.

He says he misspoke and wants to clarify he is not in love with her. Soon-deok decides not to get involved with him as he is peculiar. She immediately apologises and says she will never show up in front of him and runs off. He sulks at her extreme reaction when the royal guards suddenly arrest him and throw him in prison.

The King shows up with the excuse that Jung-woo is mocking royal tradition with his marriage petitions. Jung-woo tries to weasel out with the logic that his marriage rites to the princess are invalid. The King is annoyed as he points out how Jung-woo used such similar sly tactics to stop the Crown Prince’s marriage. He decides to punish him and at the end of The Matchmakers episode 1, he tells Jung-woo to drink poison.

The Episode Review

The Matchmakers episode 1 is definitely the rom-com we have been promised, easy and fun to guess the next moves of the characters. The main characters are already loveable and charming. Even the sad or the worrying scenes are hilarious. Despite the sexual premise, the execution is not vulgar, the jokes are subtle but still hilarious. 

We can always count on Rowoon to play a goofy character to the tee. Jung-woo is righteous, does not believe in love and follows the rules. But despite being smart, it is funny how he doesn’t realise why his chest hurts.

Then there is Cho Yi-hyun who has done a complete 180 after her reserved and no-nonsense role in All Of Us Are Dead. Soon-deok believes in love and does not use her job for just money. Her skills are like Jung-woo as she observes her surroundings like a detective, but she, of course, also makes good use of the information she learns such as Jo’s plan to cancel the marriage prohibition.


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Read our season 1 review of The Matchmakers here!

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