A Woman's Home


Reviewed by: sukting

July 18, 2005

Rating: three

How long
30 episodes

Foreword
A complicated plot which involves a lot of people. together with complicated titles - a rich woman's home or Her house. I hope that you will not get confused after reading the review.

Story /Introduction on characters
1) Zhang Tai Zhou - Cha In Pyo

He is the second son of the family. He is an engineering graduate but is a very traditional Korean man. He wants his future wife to stay with his family and be a housewife but Ying Yu is certainly not his type of dream woman. His family cleans her family's clothes and almost all members wear hand-me-downs from them. Can you imagine Tai Zhou wearing Mr Li's clothes but he doesn't mind it?

Tai Zhou is so unhappy that Ying Yu keeps their courtship under wraps for 2 years. But he still bears it. However, he changes after their marriage. He is unhappy with her for not wanting to stay with his family but he obliges her. They start to have conflicts because he asks a lot from her. He wants to have a child soon but she is persistent to concentrate on her career. They have lots of conflicts due to family differences when they stay together under one roof.

He doesn't like Ying Yu to be more capable than him so he works hard for a promotion. Finally the company gives him a car in the end. However, Ying Yu gets television interviews and that hurts his ego.

Ying Yu has a miscarriage later and makes matters worse. He can't take it and both are hostile to each other. Both suspect each other of infidelity - he suspects her to like Nan He, her subordinate while she accuses him of liking his classmate, Xian Jing. They end up having a separation. But both are reluctant to file for divorce. However, the death of Grandmother Zhang speeds the process. Why? I'll explain later in my review. But fear not, they reconcile in the end and Ying Yu is pregnant again.

I find Cha In Pyo no difference in portraying the jealous husband as in 'Fireworks'. He is still stiff in his acting. Wonder how he wins the best actor award in 2001?

2) Li Ying Yu - Kim Nam Joo

Her parents provide the best education for her and she is a skilled architect. She is thus very open and behaves like a tomboy. She is ambitious and wishes to set up her own company with Nan He. She is very successful in her career and there is no way to make her a housewife.

They move out after marriage but they move back again. Why? Because she is lazy in cooking and she even gives Tai Zhou overnight rice for breakfast. Mrs Zhang is displeased with the arrangement and forces them to live with them.

Initially she finds it a blessing to stay with them. Mrs Zhang often cooks cooling drinks for her when she is pregnant and is so thoughtful to insert a straw into the water bottle so that she can drink in the car when driving. However, Tai Shu always finds fault with her because Tai Zhou rejects a marriage proposal that she intends to set for him because of her. She bears with her initially but later talks back at her.

Ying Yu is willful and tactless. She is a workaholic and neglects her health, over eager for a promotion. That is why her foetus has no heart beat and she doesn't know it! Tai Zhou starts blaming her and there is a cold war between them. She quarrels with him and stays in a hotel - sleeps continuously for 2 days!

Or she can run away from home and stay in her parents' home without telling the others. Her poor parents have to take the blame. She moves out into Nan He's home while Xian Jing always consoles Tai Zhou. This is why both get the wrong idea about each other.

Although Grandmother Zhang has Alzheimer's disease, she gets along well with this granddaughter-in-law. Ying Yu is shocked to know that Mrs Zhang is not Tai Zhou's mother but aunt. She marries into the family because she wants to take care of them. She starts to doubt her ability to stay with such a traditional family and thus files for divorce. After the divorce, Tai Zhou applies to work in Malaysia and Ying Yu starts to miss him. Love rekindles again when he is back and both get married once more.

Kim Nam Joo is good as a headstrong, stubborn and willful woman. But this role is the same as Song Jing Lin as in 'Model' so it gives little surprise.

3) Xian Jing

She is Tai Zhou's perfect dream wife as she has all the qualities that He wants. A pity that Tai Zhou doesn't choose her. She is Tai Zhou's age so she also knows Ying Yu well being her senior. She feels upset when she is dragged between them to go for dates together or being used by Ying Yu as an excuse to meet Tai Zhou. When Tai Zhou is down, she is always there to offer him consolation.

She gets along well with his family too - I also wonder why Tai Zhou doesn't like this sweet woman. Even at Grandmother's funeral, she is like a family member, managing all the affairs for them. You cannot blame her for being selfish for once in not revealing to Ying Yu that Tai Zhou loves her on the verge of breaking up. She really deserves happiness after doing so much for him. Why not get her a man?

4) Nan He

As Ying Yu's subordinate, he works quietly and keeps his feelings about her to himself. He doesn't mind her being more capable than him. He congratulates them on the marriage but still jokes with her saying that she is no different from other brides. However, the intimate way that Ying Yu is with him sends Tai Zhou the wrong signal and he gets jealous. After their separation, Nan He confesses to Tai Zhou that he really likes Ying Yu but has given up hope after seeing that Ying Yu can't forget him at all.

5) Zhang Tai Shu

No one can accept such a picky sister-in-law. She is very nasty to Ying Yu, telling her about the family rules and trying to be sarcastic to her every now and then. She also doesn't like Xian Jing - well - perhaps she doesn't like Tai Zhou's choices and wish that he gives in to HER choice. What an unreasonable sister!

She persuades Ying Yu to reconsider the divorce - not because she starts to accept her but she wants to save their family from disgrace. She even tells her about the past - she has known all along that Mrs Zhang isn't her natural mother but her aunt although she was very young when her mother died. But she keeps it from Tai Zhou - not wanting to affect their close bond. However, she changes for the better later.

6) Zhang Tai Xi

She is very young, sickly, blur and innocent. Her elder siblings are so worried that she may get cheated. However, when it comes to love, she is very daring to declare her love for Ying Can. But her parents oppose to her marrying Ying Can as they feel that she is too young and ignorant.

After marriage she doesn't know her duties as a wife and likes to sleep with Grandmother Zhang. But she is successful in following her sister in keeping Ying Can's pay to make sure that he doesn't overspend. Finally she becomes mature and is pregnant.

7) Piao Ying Cai - Kim Hyun Joo

Her parents are rich and she grows up in comfort. She is Ying Yu's cousin and stays in Ying Yu's home because she is denied entry into the university hostel for keeping late nights. She is young and loves to have fun. However, she becomes mature after knowing Jun Xi. She doesn't look down on his car mechanic status and loves him. However, she keeps this fact from her mother, lying that he comes from a rich family.

Later, it is discovered that he indeed comes from a rich family. But at this moment, her father becomes a bankrupt and she feels inferior. She tries hard to avoid him. However, his persistence wins her in the end and both get engaged. On their engagement day, both wear normal silver rings that they buy from the roadside and donate the money to the orphanage that helps to raise him up. What a sweet gesture! They even study sociology together in the university so as to help the poor after graduation.

Same old cheerful girl with not much improvement in acting. The scenes that she is supposedly to be suffering from depression don't really look convincing. It seems that she is always given these roles and this gives her little room for exposure.

8) Han Jun Xi - Lee Suh Jin

He rents a room in Tai Zhou's home but all of them treat him like his own family. He works in Tai Zhou's brother-in-law's car garage as a car mechanic. But he never stops his dream in studying and hopes to get into the university. Later, it is found that he is the illegitimate grandson of Grandfather Han. He stays with Grandfather Han and continues his university education.

Normally others will be jealous when a new member comes in to join a family out of the blue. But Jun Xi's family welcome him with open arms and treat him very well. (His uncle's look can be misleading as he is very evil looking and suspicious when he goes around confirming Jun Xi's identity. I have thought that he wants to silence him.) That is why he stays with them. He still visits Zhang family often and buys gifts for them. He is still the down to earth man that Ying Cai knows and he tries to explain this to her at 7-11, the place she works part time to raise her education fees. Finally he moves her and he wins her heart.

His acting is only average. This is the first serial that I have seen him and he wins me over with his dimpled smile. But do you notice this - he may not be very outstanding looking but he ends up being rich not only in here but also in 'Firebird' and 'Since I met you'! Is it because he has a rich man's look?

9) Ying Can - He is Xi Jiu - Yang Shun's admirer in 'Joyful Girl's Success Story'

He is also a car mechanic like Jun Xi. Both rent the same room in the Zhang household and thus they are as close as brothers. Poor man - he loves Tai Xi so much but she leaves him half amused and half furious after their wedding when she refuses to sleep with him. He has to seek his in-laws help to settle for him. Many will really laugh at how desperate he is.

10) Grandmother Zhang

At first, I find her pitiful for being so senile. It seems that she forgets others easily but she never seems to forget Ying Yu, always hugging her when she is back. Ying Yu also melts upon seeing her. But upon knowing the past, my sympathy sinks rock bottom to zero. Why?

She can be so selfish! Tai Zhou and Tai Shu's mother died when they were very young. So their aunt took care of them during the funeral period. Tai Zhou grew so attached to her and refused to eat when she returned to her hometown. However, she returned after knowing about it.

This selfish and despicable woman was so afraid that she might leave again even though she agreed to look after them and marry her brother-in-law. She insisted she should bear a child so as to tie her to the family forever. I am sickened by the thought - what kind of desperate measure is this? No wonder Ying Yu knows that she can never make such a big sacrifice like Mrs Zhang so she decides to leave the family for good.

11) Mrs Zhang - the actress as You Zhen's mother in 'Winter Sonata'

She joined this family after her sister's death and accepts the fate calmly, willing to slog for the family for the rest of her life. She claims to be all the children's natural mother and treat them all the same. But all can see that she gives Tai Zhou most of her love. At first, Tai Zhou can't accept the fact that she is not is natural mother but later he accepts it.

She has done far too much. When Ying Yu doesn't stay with them, she helps to clean their home. When she stays with them, she helps to wash her undergarments. When she is pregnant, she cooks fish soup for her. But there is once that she forgets to drink it and it turns bad. Later, she finds that Ying Yu tried to give the soup away. This makes her very upset for wasting her effort and is not appreciated. Ying Yu later learns to respect her and appreciate what she does for her when she moves back to stay with them again.

12) Mr Zhang

A man with no backbone and just follows his mother's instructions. He is also a traditional man but still, he tries to understand his son's problems. He treats all his children equally but I also don't understand why he must keep the truth from his two younger children.

13) Mr Li

He is not exactly a traditional Korean man as he shows his love for his wife and daughter openly. Knowing that Tai Zhou is a fine man, he supports Ying Yu's decision to marry him and even persuades his wife to accept him. But her divorce hurts him very much. He even has to bear the agony of facing stomach cancer alone together with the trouble given by Ying Yu. Of course, this serial is a happy one when he retires and goes to seek a quiet life in the country side with his wife and is on the road to recovery.

14) Mrs Zhang - she is as Xiang He's mother in 'Winter Sonata'

She dotes on Ying Yu and tries to give her the best. But she is distressed upon her daughter's choice of a husband. In fact, she gets so worried and upset that she has gastric problems on their wedding day and has to be sent to hospital. This makes the Zhang family upset as they think that she looks down on them.

I feel that the Zhang family's accusations can be true - Ying Yu is too pampered by her. Ying Yu says that she keeps on complaining about her life for having to look after her mother-in-law. What is the point of complaining and also being unhappy? This strikes her and in the end, she gives up talking sense to her after trying in vain to change her for the better. She decides to let her learn through the hard way.

15) Mr Piao (this actor acts as Shan Mei's father in 'All About Eve')

He has been successful all along and a failure almost ruins him. He tries to borrow money from his brother-in-law, Mr Li. Mr Li advises him to work hard to clear his debt. He is such a coward to run away. Although he is poor, he still can't accept Jun Xi as his future son-in-law because of his background. He also refuses Grandfather Han's help and wants to build his own empire back on his own. To him, an illegitimate son doesn't work well with his traditional brain. It takes long for Ying Cai to change his mind.

16) Mrs Piao (this actress acts as You Zhen's mother in 'All About Eve')

She is really a money-digger. She despises Jun Xi when he is poor and sucks up to him when he is rich. I remember the scene of Jun Xi appearing with Grandfather Han at Zhang family doorstep with presents in a grand car. She later asks Ying Can his identity and is dumbstruck to know that he is no longer poor!

When she goes home to spread the news and blames herself for losing such a good chance, all are so pissed off and leave her crying alone! Mrs Li even asks her whether she feels bad about losing the chance of knowing a rich person or a nice guy!

I really feel disgusted when she turns up at Jun Xi's home, begging him to accept her daughter again. Of course, she is made to know that Ying Cai makes the initiative. This breaks all her dreams of getting her husband back to his feet and Ying Cai to marry into a rich family. All should not miss her on how she cries and beats up her daughter for being so 'stupid'.

I really can't stand her presence - I always walk away from the television set when her face appears. She is such a nasty person and how I wish that Ying Cai can just run away from home and doesn't stay to listen to all her nonsense. Her family should not have allowed her to stay in their home - she is just wasting their resources as she doesn't contribute to the family.

17) Grandfather Han - he is as Dong Kui's father in 'My Fair Lady'

His only son died in a car accident. Suddenly a stranger appears at his doorstep, claiming to be pregnant with his grandchild. Due to extreme grief and he doesn't believe that his son will do such a thing, he drives her away. The woman kills herself after giving birth to Jun Xi. Jun Xi's grandparents take care of him and he comes to Seoul after their deaths.

Grandfather Han becomes old and starts to feel lonely. He then remembers about his son's lover and hopes that his son will really have a heir. He checks out that it is indeed the truth but it takes him a long time to search for Jun Xi and reveal the truth to him. You will laugh when his employees and nephews take desperate measures - they mistakens Ying Can as Jun Xi and takes the wrong person's hair for the DNA test. Later, the right person is right in hospital due to a car accident and Grandfather Han gets his answer.

Jun Xi can't accept the fact at first but later he gives in upon seeing how old he is. He tries hard to be a doting grandfather. Seeing that Jun Xi is troubled over Ying Cai, he helps to persuade her. He becomes more cheerful after this young woman plays chess and other games with him. He looks stern but he isn't.

18) Grandmother Li - she is Zhe Xiong's grandmother in 'Glass Slippers'

She is head of the household but is a very traditional woman. She manages the household well and settles all the disputes tactfully. Upon knowing that her youngest son wants to marry a divorcee, she objects to it and gives in later upon seeing how much he loves her.

19) Xiao Xiao

She is divorced and has a young daughter. She is hesitant in marrying into the family because of her past but Uncle Li's persistence wins her in the end. She has a part to play in bringing Jun Xi and Ying Cai together too in passing letters to them when Mrs Piao forbids them to see each other.

20) Uncle Li - he is Zhou Kun in 'Bad Friends'

He is Ying Yu's youngest uncle and is a music teacher. He goes through many obstacles to get married. Knowing that his income is limited, he and Xiao Xiao distribute newspapers in the morning and sing in a lounge in the afternoon. He tries not to be dependent on Mr Li.

Favourite character
Xian Jing because she is so sweet to everyone.

Most hated character
Top of the list is Grandmother Zhang for controlling Mrs Zhang's life. Mrs Piao is second for being nasty. Ying Yu is third for creating lots of trouble to everyone.

Interesting scenes

The marriage scenes between all the couples. Grand and touching.

The conflicts between Tai Zhou and Ying Yu. It can be baffling as they can pick on each other on minor issues to quarrel.

How Jun Xi tries so hard to woo Ying Cai. At first, her family doesn't accept him because he is poor. The reverse happens when he is too rich and is an illegitimate child. Sigh - this is confusing.

Interesting facts
Cha In Pyo won MBC best actor award in 2001, beating hot favourite Kim Seung Woo from Hotelier. I have no idea whether Bae Yong Jun was in the race but if he was, I think it is a pity that he lost as his acting in Hotelier was finer than Cha. Meanwhile Kim Nam Joo lost out to Song Yun Ah from Hotelier.

Conclusion
This serial provides insight into the complications of staying with in-laws. Due to character differences, status and upbringing, there are bounds to be conflicts. The rich look down on the poor and the poor also feel the pressure to mix with them. Although some scenes can be unbelievable, it is still watchable if you are not fussy. The acting is acceptable but the Korean culture is too different from us so it will be hard for us to imagine or understand it.

Sukting's Ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

On story : *** (Scale of 5)


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