I was pretty hooked already in episode 1 of Bride of the Century, but episode 2 easily turned it into a full blown addiction. I decided to recap this baby after I watched the first two episodes last week, having two consecutive entertaining episodes to start things off is a gift horse I’ll not look in the mouth. If this drama goes to crazyville later on at least I’m prepared, and frankly it’s already starting off in ridiculousville so it’s not like I was suckered into watching some award winning documentary only to discover this was an episode of cheesy fluff. Episode 2 throws our resident cold condescending prick of a male lead Kang Joo together with ballsy no-nonsense Doo Rim, a coupling that delivers on every bit of the opposites attract conceit as it set out to do. I’m not just shown why Kang Joo and Doo Rim would be sparks flying from the first second onward, I really feel it due to the nice character constructs and the delightful chemistry between the two leads. Lee Hong Ki fits the role of Kang Joo but not in a way that makes me think he’s destined to be an actor because he just has that indelible connection with the camera.
There are plenty of idol actors who cannot sincerely connect with the camera no matter how hard they try (one of Hong Li’s same agency mates immediately comes to mind) and get by on looks and star quality so I’m relieved that Lee Hong Ki is so easy to watch even if he’s not the best actor around. Yang Jin Sung gets much more into character in this episode and everything about Doo Rim is endearing without being overly stupid. Her character is always right at the edge of overkill in the way she talks and acts, but never crosses the line and spares me the need for heroine bashing for behaving too cartoonish. I really loved how episode 2 dropped Doo Rim right into the pretense and spared us the learning stage and then explaining it away as the entire Choi family knows nothing about Yi Kyung that they don’t find it odd at all that Doo Rim is basically a completely different personality. It’s makes sense since Yi Kyung was picked as a puppet wife, and perhaps as the sacrifice bride for the family curse, but either way no one seems to miss her a whit other than her overly close oppa Yi Hyun and her calculating mom President Ma. It was a blast watching Kang Joo and Doo Rim butt heads with guns blazing right off the bat, as well as get a better sense of the Choi family dynamics as the action moves to the family compound where a ghost lurks and plenty of secrets are around every corner.
Episode 2 recap:
Yi Hyun drives Doo Rim to the Jang residence, clearly having made the substitute princess deal with her. Doo Rim marvels at the large mansion and pauses for a moment before going in.
Yi Hyun introduces Doo Rim to his mother President Ma who is naturally shocked at her resemblance to Yi Kyung. She tells Doo Rim politely to go upstairs to wash up and rest, but the moment Doo Rim walks away President Ma grouses about how unsophisticated Doo Rim is and how this can’t possibly work. Yi Hyun takes Doo Rim to the guest bedroom and leaves her to rest. Doo Rim looks around and sighs.
President Ma talks with Yi Hyun about how crazy this world is to have two girls so similar and wonders if perhaps her husband….. Yi Hyun assures her he did a background check on Doo Rim and there is no connection between her and their family. This is just one of those unexplainable phenomenons in the world. Or better explained as “Only in drama land.”
Doo Rim finishes her bath and passes by Yi Kyung’s room on her way back to her guest room. She walks in and sees a picture of Yi Kyung on the wall and confirms she does look just like her. She finds some colored cotton balls on her counter and thinks its cotton candy and eats one only to choke on it. Yi Hyun walks in and tells Doo Rim that Yi Kyung’s room is off limits.
The next day, Doo Rim is at a beauty salon getting the requisite make over. Her make up goes from orange like she raided Donald Trump’s tanner collection to very lovely and understated and she gets her hair straightened. As she is leaving, she drops her ghostly lucky bracelet and a bunch of rude girls bump into her and kick the bracelet into the corner. Doo Rim notices her bracelet missing and runs back to look for it.
Yi Hyun is waiting for her in the lobby and runs into Kang Joo who is here because the department store is filming a CF and he came to take a look. After Kang Joo heads upstairs, Yi Hyun quickly calls Doo Rim to get her to hide and avoid being seen by Kang Joo but he only gets her voicemail. Doo Rim and Kang Joo miss each other as she heads into the elevator before he walks up. But magic causes her bracelet to move across the floor and bump into his shoe. He picks it up and hangs it on the tree which is when Doo Rim comes down and is happily reunited with it.
Yi Hyun rushes up to Doo Rim and confirms she didn’t see Kang Joo. She apologizes for being unreachable and explains she was looking for her lucky bracelet. Her money was stolen and halmoni fell ill, but she met Yi Hyun then and her money problems were solved so this bracelet is her lucky bracelet and she can’t lose it.
The head back home for dining etiquette training as well as learning the names and faces of the Choi family members. She identifies Kang In since she’s a Monster fan. Doo Rim practices her demure smile and then asks Yi Hyun to stop speaking in jeondaemal with her lest they make a mistake at the lunch.
Doo Rim has been transformed into pretty and proper Yi Kyung and heads to the lunch family meeting with Yi Hyun and President Ma. He tells her not to be nervous and just remember what they practiced. She asks to use the restroom first and heads off. In the restroom, she runs into the ahjumma who stole the neighborhood funds and ran off. Doo Rim confronts her and the ahjumma books it with Doo Rim chasing her through the hotel lobby like a fishwife on the street.
Yi Hyun and President Ma arrive at the private dining room first and greet the Choi family. They ask where Yi Kyung is and Kang Joo offers to go look for her. Doo Rim is chasing the ahjumma through the hotel and Kang Joo spies the ruckus and is about the walk away when he pauses and looks over. Doo Rim grabs the ahjumma by the sofas and takes her wallet for the time being. Kang Joo starts walking over when Kang In calls out his name and Doo Rim realizes who he is. Kang In is upset their idol group has been changed out as the models for the department store but big brother says they can discuss this later.
Doo Rim tells the ahjumma to quickly leave and then composes herself as Kang Joo walks over. Kang Joo sees her sitting there all alone and brings up her missing his company event to run off but now she’s back clearly because she is in it for the money. Doo Rim apologizes but Kang Joo says her family ought to care more about their engagement going kaput. He asks if there wasn’t someone else with her but she quickly pooh poohs that. He barks at her to get up and she follows him to the dining room.
Kang Joo pauses outside the room and gives Doo Rim one last chance to back out of the engagement now. She’s going to have to behave going forward and can’t do whatever she wants anymore if she decides to stick with it. There are plenty of people who will take this place if she doesn’t want it. Doo Rim smiles and heads in since the elders are waiting. She trips and Kang Joo tries to steady her but they end up kissing.
They hilariously break apart and blame each out for the accidental kissage. She claims he ought to be man enough to avoid it and asks if he did it on purpose while he yells back that he’s not brain addled enough to want to kiss her!
Lunch is a quiet elegant affair and Doo Rim stares at Kang Joo and grouses that he’s a rude bastard and the reason she wasn’t able to get her money back. Suddenly her phone rings and the ring tone is a Monster track which Kang In recognizes. She explains how she’s a Monster fan because they are going to be family soon. Kang In invites her to an upcoming Monster showcase while the Choi parents are pleased she’s making such an effort to get to know the family.
The seafood course arrives and Doo Rim needs to look at Yi Hyun to make sure she uses her utensils properly. She digs into the dish with relish which makes Kang Joo’s dad happy to see a young girl enjoying her food. Kang Joo remembers the last time Yi Kyung refused to eat seafood and President Ma steps in with a quick explanation. The Choi parents are happy with this meeting and want to move forward with the wedding plans and setting a date.
Lunch finishes and everyone goes their own way but Kang Joo offers to take Doo Rim home. Kang Joo pauses and stares at Doo Rim before noting that she’s so weird. Why is she refusing to look at him in the eye like she committed a crime? She sasses back that she didn’t but he points out that she grabbed his tie and kissed his lips. He asks if she did it on purpose and she tries to laugh it off like he’s kidding. Kang Joo heads to the office since he had no plans to take her home and was doing it just for show leaving Doo Rim to yell at his rudeness.
Doo Rim runs into the Japanese business woman that met Yi Kyung before and she tries to strike up a conversation. She notices that Doo Rim seems to not recognize her but thankfully Yi Hyun comes back and extricates her from the situation.
Yi Hyun drives Doo Rim home and she asks if she made a lot of mistakes today? Yi Hyun said she passed so that’s enough. Doo Rim points out that Kang Joo doesn’t know Yi Kyung at all which is why he doesn’t notice anything weird with her massive behavior differences. She calls him a rude bastard who only has looks and money and she understands why Yi Kyung would run away. If Yi Kyung married this kind of guy, it would be just like those political marriages in dramas. She then apologizes for speaking out of turn but Yi Hyun says she’s not wrong.
Doo Rim goes home and thinks about how she was close to nabbing the money swindling ahjumma but let her go because of Kang Joo. She then remembers the kiss and touches her lips which she has saved for 25 years. She later sees President Ma complaining to Yi Hyun about this situation and how she had to let their housekeeper go to maintain the ruse.
The next morning, Doo Rim has breakfast ready when President Ma and Yi Hyun come down. She tells them that she will handle all the house work while she is staying here. She brings out a soup made from the food in the fridge and is complimented for making delicious food. Yi Hyun reminds her that after breakfast they have more training to do.
Doo Rim is shocked that Yi Kyung doesn’t eat most seafood. Yi Hyun rattles down a list of very specific foods and drinks that Yi Kyung does or does not drink and Doo Rim stares at him. She is impressed with how good of a brother he is since he knows so much about Yi Kyung. He hands her the family tree of the Choi family as well as Yi Kyung and Kang Joo’s classmates and friends. Doo Rim gets a call from Kang Joo’s mom summoning her to the country estate.
Doo Rim arrives at the country estate and is welcomed by the butler and led inside to meet with Kang Joo’s mother. She hands Doo Rim a list about all of Kang Joo’s likes and dislikes as well since she needs to know it all to be a good wife. She also hands Doo Rim a list of upcoming family events which she is expected to attend. Kang Joo is destined for big things and needs a wife who can support him. She won’t forgive another lapse like the one at the company party. Doo Rim promises to do well. Kang Joo’s mom asks her to stay for dinner and tells her to wait in Kang Joo’s room until he gets home.
Doo Rim walks into his room and gapes in awe at his massive walk in closet chock full of designer duds. She then notices a pair of fencing foils hanging on the wall as well as a face mask. Turns out Kang Joo was formerly a fencer. She puts on the fencing mask and grabs a foil while pretending to fence. She falls on the bed and accidentally turns on the sound system which leads to her trying to turn it off. That’s when she sees Kang Joo looking at her all annoyed before he turns off the music.
Kang Joo takes off the fencing helmet and asks if this is her true self – acting all demure and refined in public but constantly doing weird things in private. He goes to change and Doo Rim looks chastened. His cell phone rings and he rudely gestures for her to bring it to him. Doo Rim hands it to him sideways so she’s not looking at him since his shirt is half opened. He has a quick chat and then wonders if she’s here to do something else. She tells him to change and is about to leave when Kang Joo blocks her exit.
Kang Joo pushes her against the wall and asks if she’s not interested in getting to know his body better since she’s learning all about his everything else. Doo Rim pushes him away and raises her fist and threatens to beat him to a pulp if he crosses the line with her. Kang Joo is incredulous at her threat so she has to quickly amend it to say that they are only engaged and not yet married so they need to behave. It’s not like they are hotblooded youth, and even if wedding with baby onboard is popular these days it’s still not right. She walks out and derides Kang Joo as a pervert.
Yi Hyun and Doo Rim looks through the list of events and find out the next big family event is the memorial for Kang Joo’s dead grandfather. He’s the family patriarch and founder of Taeyang Group so this memorial will bring all the family members together and she needs to go as the future daughter-in-law. Doo Rim points out that the original deal was for her to attend the family lunch meeting only. Yi Hyun throws in opening a restaurant for her if she continues to masquerade as Yi Kyung. That’s the magic word and Doo Rim immediately agrees to do it and promises she’ll do a great job.
Doo Rim arrives at the memorial and is led in to greet the grandmother and oldest uncles. The grandmother needs to have her cell phone forcibly taken away before she can concentrate and receive Doo Rim’s bow. Doo Rim is about to bow when the grandmother yells at Doo Rim for being a fake one and NOT their Kang Joo’s fiancee. She shoos Doo Rim out while the parents try to calm her down.
Doo Rim is taking supplies in when she runs into Roo Mi in the courtyard and doesn’t know who she is. She wonders if she’s a Choi relative. Roo Mi tells Doo Rim to try her best to become the Choi family daughter-in-law and she’s not going to go anywhere either. Kang Joo’s mom comes out and greets Roo Mi warmly and leads her in for tea. Doo Rim processes the name Roo Mi and checks her phone to find out Roo Mi is a director at Taeyang Group and her father is a prosecutor and she grew up with Kang Joo.
Kang Joo walks up and asks what she is doing? Isn’t her hands only able to eat and shop? He thinks Doo Rim is doing this for show. Doo Rim chews him out for always speaking in ways that make people want to run away from him. She leaves him fuming as she walks away.
Doo Rim heads to the kitchen and notices the housekeeper not cutting the fish right so she grabs the knife from her and shows her how to do it expertly. When asked how she learned, she has to quickly lie that she learned in a cooking class. The household ahjummas are all complimenting her for being a hardworking polite girl, not a useless princess they thought she would be. Kang Joo pauses by the kitchen and hears this.
The ahjummas are all outside cooking and gossiping about how the family is cursed with the first bride of the first son dying after the wedding. Doo Rim pokes her head in to ask what they are talking about. Before anything else is said, Kang Joo’s mother comes outside and yells at everyone to stop gossiping and go back to work. She tells Doo Rim privately not to be so friendly with the help otherwise she won’t be able to manage them in the future.
Doo Rim and Kang Joo’s mom head to see the grandmother and find her rocking in the chair. She asks Doo Rim to piggyback her and the butler tries to offer but she kicks him away and he hurts his back. Doo Rim agrees to piggyback her and is very kind and sweet when she does it. As they head out in the hallway, the grandmother suddenly pees because she’s so comfortable and everyone freaks out. Doo Rim is very calm and doesn’t freak out, only offering to take the grandmother inside to change.
Doo Rim changes the grandmother and compliments her on being so beautiful. She yawns and Doo Rim lays her down to sleep before feeling tired herself and laying down as well. She snuggles close to the grandmother and sadly wonders how her own halmoni is doing? We see halmoni eating all alone and worried about Doo Rim.
It’s almost sunset by the time Kang Joo comes to wake Doo Rim up for the memorial service. He turns on the light and watches her sleep. She calls out to her halmoni and then snores softly. Kang Joo shakes her awake and she freaks out to see him there. She accuses him of having nefarious intentions by watching her sleep and he shoots back that no man could have such intentions when watching a woman snoring. He tells her to hurry up and come out but Doo Rim smiles at the grandmother first and covers her up nicely before leaving.
The prayer ceremony begins for the deceased grandfather and all the family members are respectfully in attendance. After the service is done, Doo Rim is helping the maids clean up when suddenly the lights start flickering above the altar before it goes out. She grabs a match and lights it before freaking out when the flame illuminates Kang Joo’s face. They end up sprawled on each other when the lights come back on. Roo Mi walks in just in time to see this and storms out. Kang Joo pushes Doo Rim off and asks if she did this on purpose knowing that Roo Mi was coming?
Kang Joo runs after Roo Mi while Doo Rim finishes cleaning. As she walks off, she looks back at the weird lights and then the camera zooms in on an old black and white family photo on the side where the female ghost is in the picture and smiling.
Yi Hyun sees President Ma sitting in Yi Kyung’s room and she has pulled out a seal from under Yi Kyung’s pillow. He asks what that is and she claims it was to pray for the engaged couple to get along well. She crumples it up and says it’s totally useless.
Kang Joo sits with Roo Mi and she asks point blank if he’s planning to marry Yi Kyung? It’s what his family picked and Kang Joo is fine with that. Roo Mi asks why he’s marrying a woman he doesn’t love? Kang Joo doesn’t believe his heart is capable of love and Roo Mi asks him to let go of what is bothering him, to stop not trusting people and let others get close again. Kang Joo puts her in her place since she shouldn’t speak of what she doesn’t know. Roo Mi feels like she has earned a right to say it since she’s been by his side for so long. And if he’s willing to marry without love, then why can’t she be the one? She’s more suited for him and it hurts her to see him with Yi Kyung.
Kang Joo tells her to stop now and gets up to leave. Roo Mi back hugs him and cries that she can’t let him go. Kang Joo turns and notices Doo Rim peeking at them but Doo Rim quickly runs away. He looks rather stricken and Roo Mi notices it and asks how come he has this expression when he claims he has no feelings for Yi Kyung? Kang Joo tells her not to speak poorly of Yi Kyung since she’s the girl his family has approved of. He storms off leaving Roo Mi crying there.
Doo Rim thinks Roo Mi and Kang Joo have a romantic relationship and can’t wait for Yi Kyung to come back so she can stop playing acting with all these weirdos. Suddenly the female ghost glides past her and attracts her attention so she follows it to the altar residence. She goes inside and hears a cat meowing. Doo Rim walks towards the cat while the ghost hides behind the wall and smiles, disappearing right as Kang Joo walks in. He also hears a cat meowing and walks over to see Doo Rim saving a cat underneath the floor boards.
She hands him a baby kitten and then goes back to bring out the dead mother cat. They go to bury the mother cat and Doo Rim stands there staring at Kang Joo and then the shovel. He wonders if she expects him to shovel dirt as the heir to the Taeyang Group but she doesn’t know why the heir can’t shovel dirt. He takes one stab at the hard earth and yelps in pain. Doo Rim can’t handle his ineptitude so hands him the kitten and proceeds to shovel the dirt expertly. She calls his two hands useless except for eating and wiping shit. Ha!
Doo Rim buries the mother cat while Kang Joo stands there holding the kitten and both looking adorable. She takes the kitten back and promises to be its mom since it doesn’t have a mom anymore. Kang Joo asks if she’s leaving and she tells him to do some exercises under the moon if he wants to stay.
The Choi parents discuss how Yi Kyung is very considerate and well behaved and is a good partner for Kang Joo. Dad likes her more but Mom is still reserved and wants to observe her some more. Dad asks if Mom is still sad about Roo Mi but Mom isn’t since it’s a fate that wasn’t meant to be. Mom asks if Dad is still blaming her for the death of his first love? He tells her not to speak of the past anymore but she worries because in the future with Kang Joo….. Dad slams down the cup and tells her to stop gossiping like the servants especially with the big day coming up soon.
Kang Joo’s mom opens a locked box and takes out what looks like a journal of sorts as well as one red embroidered shoe of the type worn by brides wearing traditional Korean wedding garb.
Kang Joo drives Doo Rim home and wonders why she didn’t bring up what she saw between him and Roo Mi earlier. Doo Rim suddenly yelps because the kitten peed so Kang Joo orders off his car and doesn’t continue the conversation. He drives off and Doo Rim yells at him for being so mad at a little pee since he pees, too.
Yi Hyun chews out Doo Rim for bringing the kitten home since Yi Kyung is allergic to cats. Doo Rim assures him Kang Joo didn’t find it weird since he knows nothing about Yi Kyung. Yi Hyun says that’s not the point since when the real Yi Kyung comes back he will notice the difference. Doo Rim promises to remember this but asks if she can raise the kitten for the time being until Yi Kyung comes back.
Kang Joo’s mom hears that Kang Joo’s dad went out early in the morning and we see him standing by the lake reminiscing and in his memory a woman in white turns around to smile at him and it’s the female ghost.
Doo Rim goes to the department store to meet up with Kang Joo and Roo Mi. She greets Roo Mi politely but doesn’t get the same response back. They meet up with Kang Joo who wants her to take off her cheap lucky bracelet since today’s event is a bracelet event. Doo Rim doesn’t take it off and instead slides up her arm to hide it from sight.
As they walk into the department store, the former employee who Kang Joo fired so abruptly suddenly rushes up to them and yells at Kang Joo for being a cold heartless ass before tossing a tomato at Kang Joo. Doo Rim pushes Kang Joo out of the way and takes a direct hit of the tomato while Kang Joo stares on in shock and disbelief.
Thoughts of Mine:
I love BotC’s substitute princess charade for various reasons. The first is that it’s really intended to be temporary until huffy Yi Kyung comes back and there isn’t a lot of stakes in it. If Kang Joo and his family found out, at most they break off the engagement with Yi Kyung but Doo Rim gets her money from Yi Hyun and goes back to her old life. Of course that won’t happen since Kang Joo will undoubtedly be madly in love with Doo Rim at that point, heh. I think the charade is the least of the narrative meat and it’s the ghost story and what the parents are manipulating behind the scenes that will be more important. So far all the characters continue to be interesting and no one all that loathsome since everyone is open and candid with their motivations. Kang Joo’s mom wants a good daughter-in-law for Kang Joo, and may have picked Yi Kyung as a sacrifice so that Roo Mi can be the second wife down the line if the curse is true and rears its head again. Kang Joo’s had is a lot friendlier than I thought and has good taste to recognize a diamond of a gal in Doo Rim. President Ma is snobbish and calculating but she hasn’t been cruel or underhanded and she treats Doo Rim at least with consideration in front of her. Yi Hyun is a cipher as far as I’m concerned, and as the second male lead he has no narrative presence (yet) in this story.
Everything that works rests on the shoulders of Doo Rim and Kang Joo’s crackling interactions, the way she constantly butt heads with him verbally while he always reacts like she knocks him off-kilter. This is romantic comedy gold right here, these two characters that are nothing new in drama land and definitely nothing to write home about but works magically when smushed together. Doo Rim was a bit hard to stomach in episode 1 with her orange face and hideous hair to uglify her, but once she turns into Yi Kyung and tones down her mannerisms, she comes across as sassy and sweet in just the right amounts. I can see Kang Joo falling for her first since he is clearly fascinated by her the way he would never with Yi Kyung, and Roo Mi as well since those two rich bitches are cut from the same cloth. I’m guessing the ghost is all good and out to help Kang Joo find his true bride and she’s handpicked Doo Rim. I do wonder if Kang Joo has a birth secret behind him as well, or is he just so aloof and closed off because of some other childhood trauma that Roo Mi allude to? It’s lovely watching Doo Rim be her usual sweet self around the Choi family because that might be what that family needs to start moving on from it’s painful past and not repeat the same vicious cycle of disappointment and loss. Or maybe all she needs to do is keep insulting Kang Joo and falling into accidental kisses with him and everything will magically turn out fine. I wouldn’t mind that at all.
Click here to watch Bride of the Century.
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