Golden Era of Daughter in Law


Reviewed by: sukting

July 06, 2009

Rating: two-point-five

How long 54 episodes Genre: Romance

Foreword

It is a story about two families belonging to different backgrounds becoming in-laws. Things become more complicated when the married couple’s siblings also fall for each other. Can the second couple get their way? How much trouble do they find to fit into each other’s families?

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Lee Fu Shui – Kim Ji Hoon
Fu Shui is the only son of the family with 3 elder married sisters and 1 younger sister. His family runs a pork hock restaurant with a 60 year old tradition. Many have not expected that as he graduates from Seoul University, a prestigous university and all have thought that he comes from a rich family. He isn’t ashamed to admit that his family brings him up by managing the pork hock restaurant and he helps after work.

He is the sales unit planning director at Sopy, the apparel company. He knows that no one can endure as well as his mother so marriage is never on his mind although he has dated Mei Zhen for 3 years. He even contamplates of moving out if his mother keeps on submiting to his unreasonable grandmother. Anyone who marries him must learn the basics of making pig hock for 3 years and he doubts that Mei Zhen can make the cut – judging from her character.

Xiang Xin pushes him to go matchmaking so he only wants to marry the person he really loves. He brings her to his home for the first time, intending to introduce her to the family. To his dismay, she has very thick make-up and her dressing is luring. She even gets herself drunk. This prompts him to marry her earlier as she causes a big commotion in their shop and the whole neighbourhood knows about it.

Sopy isn’t doing well and intends to sack some of the staff. To protect them, Fu Shui intends to resign. He wants to inform Mei Zhen of his decision but she leaves home after quarreling with him over his insistance to stay at home. He then goes on holiday alone to the beach. His whole family and also his in-laws to send mms to him to beg him to return home. He returns and sets up a company with his senior.

This is the first time I see him act in here and I must that he is very good in balancing Fu Shui’s multiple roles well. He shines, regardless acting with the veterans or the young.

2. Zhao Mei Zhen – Lee Soo Kyung
Mei Zhen is a new employee of an apparel company. She often gets into trouble and even offends customers when they don’t buy their company clothes. She doesn’t understand why Fu Shui evades the issue of marriage whenever she raises it.

She can be quite naïve as she comes from a rich family, thinking that love conquers over all. She is quite sketical of marrying into the family to stay with them and suggests moving out but Fu Shui will not hear of it. She then lists her conditions before she becomes the daughter-in-law. They must move out after 3 years, she only wants to give birth to a child and she must work in Sopy after marriage.

Knowing that his parents only rest for 1 day yearly and has never even visited Jiju island, she gives in and only goes for one day tour for their honeymoon. After work, she helps out in the pork hock restaurant in washing the dishes. Initially, she complains to Yin Jing about it but slowly, she gets used to it.

She also requests to handle Fu Shui’s salary, wanting his bank account book from Mei Shun. Mei Shun finds excuses not to give her and Ming Xia has to steal it for her. She works hard to get her promotion to become the team leader. Xiang Xin admires her – it isn’t easy for her to work in both areas at the same time but she is learning slowly and she even gets along well with Mei Shun.

As this is her first month marrying into the family, she still gives Mei Shun allowance and also gets her a rice cooker. Fu Shui is glad that she isn’t as thoughtless in the past. They move out and they have a son. Although she resembles Lee Tae Ran, her acting is way below her. I don’t really like the exaggerating ways she acts here.

3. Lee Fu Nan – Seo Young Hee
She is Fu Shui’s younger sister who is a drama script writer for a television station. She often runs out of ideas and often runs to the beach with her luggage to hide from the director when she is unable to continue stories. She is very nerdy looking with huge glasses. She hardly dresses herself up and keeps gaining weight as she often sleeps. She can be quite lazy to continue sleeping while others are busy at the shop. She helps out at the pork hock shop over the weekends.

Ever since Mei Zhen marries into the family, she wants more time for herself. She signs up to learn taekondo and lies to her family that she goes to the television station. Ren Yu exposes her lie but still keeps it under wraps as he also signs up to get close to her. Both get married and she gives birth to a daughter. She offers the worst acting that I have seen so far. I don’t feel like seeing her face on television again.

4. Zhao Ren Yu – Lee Pil Mo
He is Mei Zhen’s elder brother who is back after graduating overseas. Instead of finding a white collar job, he chooses to work in the television station as the assistant director. His unstable job causes him to be away from home for a couple of months.

His main task is to force Fu Nan to bring the script to the company so that the director can shoot it. He takes drastic measures to fulfill the task – by sleeping over at her home. Sometimes, he insists to stay in her room. Once, he even gets drunk to hug her till both fall asleep. Fu Shui and Mei Zhen have to sleep between them to make sure that nothing goes wrong.

This also gives the Lis a bad impression of him. His family oppose to him marrying Fu Nan as Mei Zhen has married Fu Shui. They are not supposed to marry in-laws so he gets so miserable that he falls ill. He then decides to leave for U.S. to further his studies. However, he changes his mind and uses his determination to persuade their parents to accept them.

5. Gao Jun Ming – Jang Hyun Sung
He is Fu Shui’s cousin who works in his father’s hospital. His father is in charge of external surgery while he is in charge of internal medicine. He is a very caring doctor but his love life isn’t a smooth one. His first marriage with Shu Ying breaks up because of Ming Ji. She goes missing after leaving home and only sends him the divorce papers, without explaining why.

Disillusioned, he only follows Ming Ji’s instructions to marry Xiu Lian as his second wife after his divorce. He is quite cold to her and disregards her feelings. Upon knowing that Shu Ying hasn’t remarried overseas and is in a mental hospital in Sunchon due to depression caused by Fu Ji, his heart feels for her. He also learns that she has a miscarriage. He is bitter as Ming Ji keeps this from him. He can get uptight to forget his work duties whenever he has news of her.

However, he tries hard to be a good husband and intends to forget the past after Sheng Ji advises him to move on. But it is Xiu Lian who wants to divorce him. After they part, he opens a small clinic in Chun Chuan. He remarries Shu Ying and she becomes his nurse, pregnant with his child. Although their life is simple, they are happy to be together again.

6. Che Xiu Lian – Song Sun Mi
She is Jun Ming’s wife in his second marriage. She works as the designing director in Sopy. Fu Shui and she keep their relative relationship from the other colleagues. She often comments on Mei Zhen’s designs to help her to improve herself. She is a quiet person and is very submissive to Ming Ji.

Her late mother suffers from cancer and Jun Ming is the doctor in charge. Ming Ji selects her to be her next daughter-in-law as her father is the dean of a university and she graduates from New York University. She slowly looks down on her when her father transfers to work in Sunchon. Many have thought that Jun Ming has visited his father-in-law but in reality, he is there to visit the ill Shu Ying. Ming Ji dislikes her to work and wants her to become a housewife like her but she doesn’t wish to as she is just promoted.

Upon knowing Jun Ming’s past, she slashes her wrist upon knowing that he still keeps his wedding photos with Shu Ying and he often visits her. She cuts her hair short. She also starts having affairs with Ji He. It is a way of giving up on herself but she realizes that she really loves him and she divorces Jun Ming. She resigns and goes to New York and meets Ji He there. Both are reunited again.

7. Jin Ji He – Lee Jong Won
He is Shu Ying’s elder brother. He learns photography in New York and hurries home upon learning that Shu Ying is ill. He takes up photography assignments by Sopy reluctantly to earn a living. He is sloppy on his job for being late but Xiu Lian keeps him as he really shoots nice photos. Never does he expect to be the third party in Xiu Lian’s marriage. He is bitter to know that Jun Ming is remarried to her. Initially, he wants to break off with her but later, he continues the affair just to spite back at Ming Ji.

Ming Ji has humiliated his family and looks down on them as his mother accepts money from her for Shu Ying’s treatment. Since Ming Ji threatens to make him lose his job, he also seeks revenge. But seeing how much hurt he has caused to Xiu Lian, he regrets his actions and leave for New York.

8. Lu Sheng You – Lee Ha
He is Mei Zhen’s junior in the sales unit. He has known Ji He for a long time as he is his senior. Knowing that he has no place to stay and needs a job, he helps him out. Seeing that Ji He hasn’t treated his photography assignment seriously, he begs Xiu Lian to give him a second chance. He is a trustworthy and loyal friend indeed.

9. Xu Yong Xin – Yeo Woon Kye
She is the Lis’ neighbour who opens a noodle shop beside their pork hock shop. She stays alone and is close to them. Although she often fights with Xiang Xin, both of them are close friends. She moves to tears when Xiang Xin leaves her a bangle after her death.

10. Wu Xiang Xin – Kim Eul Dong
She is the grandmother. No one will dare to say no to her. However, she isn’t the unreasonable type. She knows that Mei Shun has done enough for the family. That is why she allows her to learn calligraphy on weekends and also gives her allowance. Seeing that it is time for Mei Shun to take over the shop, she passes the account book to her.

She sympathesizes with Jun Ming over his two failed marriages. She tells Ming Ji off on her wrong way of treating daughter-in-laws. Times have changed and she can’t be too demanding on them. She gets along well with Mei Shun and Mei Zhen as she understands them well.

11. Li Ming Xia – Park In Hwan
He is Fu Shui’s father who is often stuck in the middle when Xiang Xin quarrels with Mei Shun. However, he plucks up courage to steal the account book for Fu Shui so that the young couple can be independent. Many can’t stand for talking loudly.

Fu Shui disapproves of his ways of placing the wreaths at Xiang Xin’s wake. Ming Xia places those by the wealthy ones at obvious places and not for others. He explains that this is to put Fu Shui in better light as he is now doing his own business but Fu Shui thinks all visitors should deserve the same respect.

12. Li Ming Ji – Kim Hye Ok
She is Fu Shui’s aunt. She looks down on her own past and wishes Xiang Xin to close the pork hock restaurant. Xiang Xin will not think of it as this is how she brings up her family after being widowed at a young age. She has thought of Ming Ji to be ridiculous to cut herself away from them so she is also cold to her. Whenever she visits her mother with Sheng Ji, she expects to use high class culinary tools to distant herself from others.

Although both her son and husband are doctors, she goes to a small town clinic for botox treatment. She is a terrifying mother-in-law. She suffers in her mother-in-law’s hands and does the same to her daughter-in-laws. She kicks Shu Ying out of the family and still finds Xiu Lian not good enough although she is the one who chooses her. She expects her to knock off early from work to help her in the cooking.

She keeps reprimanding her for not doing well. She is angry with Mei Zhen for saying her to be cute on her first visit and breaking her cup accidentally. But soon, she finds her endearing and gives her clothes – something that she will not do to her daughter-in-laws. Only when Jun Ming’s marriage breaks up the second time, she learns to be better although they stay far from her.

13. Gao Sheng Ji – Yoon Joo Sang
He is Jun Ming’s father. He is the hospital director and is also in charge of external surgery. He has a good sense of humour and has no airs at all. He is close to Ming Xia’s family although he is too busy to make frequent visits. He has seen how Jun Ming suffers and tries talking sense to Ming Ji. Many find him more approachable than Ming Ji and he longs Xiu Lian to be as cheery as Mei Zhen as she is too quiet.

Jun Ming hardly talks to his mother or returns home but chooses to talk to Sheng Ji more outside home. Even Xiu Lian opens up to him more than Ming Ji. However, he isn’t happy with Jun Ming ignoring his job duties whenever he runs away upon knowing Shu Ying’s whereabouts.

14. Xu Mei Shun – Yoon Yeo Jung
She is Fu Shui’s mother. The pork hock restaurant celebrates 60 years of settling up and she has spent her youth in the restaurant for 40 years. Her entire life is focused on the family so she wants to do something different. Without Mei Zhen asking her for the account book, she will not have asked Xiang Xin for hers too. Not only taking up calligraphy, she also takes up dancing with Yong Xin. Mei Zhen accompanies them there and keeps their secret from the others.

Ming Xia is enraged to find out what really happens. Xiang Xin throws her out of the family and she stays in the empty room at Ming Shi’s café. Yin Jing also runs away from home after discovering Ming Shi’s diary on notes written to his ex-girlfriend. Both women are often at loggerheads with each other but become close after staying with each other for a few days.

Although Xiang Xin is strict with her, she has admitted that Mei Shun is the best daughter-in-law that she has as she bravely leaves her hometown to be with the family and hardly visits her in-laws. That is why she is very distressed when she passes away as she treats her like her own mother.

15. Zhao Ming Shi – Lee Young Ha
He is Mei Zhen’s father who is once the head of the tax unit. He retires and owns a café, selling Western food. Unlike Yin Jing who is strict to their children, he is very lax with them. When Ren Yu isn’t home, he worries that he will not accommodate well to stay outside. He is glad when he returns home. He finds Mei Zhen willful for not informing them of her marriage partner.

Yin Jing doesn’t trust their children but he trusts their foresight. That is why he approves of their marriage. He is very soft-hearted and doesn’t like to see them suffer. Upon seeing how Ren Yu falls ill due to Fu Nan, he manages to make Yin Jing change her mind. The final scene is hilarious when he keeps exchanging Ren Yu’s daughter and Mei Zhen’s son with Ming Xia. Both grandfathers get so confused after exchanging to carry them repeatedly. Both babies look alike and they can’t tell the difference till they remove the diapers to confirm their identities!

16. Yin Yin Jing – Kim Bo Yun
She is Mei Zhen’s mother who teaches singing in a school. She has come from a rich family and also hopes that her children will do the same. To her dismay, both choose to marry children from the same family that own a pig hock restaurant. It takes her some time to accept them. Fu Nan often causes blunders when she moves into the family and she has to guide her all along.

17. Shen Zai Feng – Park Hyung Jae
Mrs Zhao has thought highly of him to be her son-in-law and invites him to their café. After Mei Zhen marries Fu Shui, Ren Yu tries matching him with Fu Nan but finds himself getting jealous instead.

18. Wu Xiang Shu – Kim Ni Kyung
She works in Mei Zhen’s team as her senior, often shaking her head over her childish ways. She later takes over Xiu Lian’s position after she resigns.

19. Jin Shu Ying – Huh Ji Na
She is a nurse working at the hospital and Jun Ming falls for her. Ming Ji often thinks that she isn’t good enough for Jun Ming but has to give in as he loves her so much. She never stops digging at her after their marriage so despite being a nurse herself, she can’t even take care of herself.

If you see how Shu Ying has asthma attacks whenever Ming Ji visits her, you will know how frightened she is of her. She needs the breathing support after that. She leaves the Gaos on that fateful day, only wishing to return home after two hours as she can hardly breathe in front of Ming Ji. She ends up fainting at the roadside and has a miscarriage.

Ming Ji scolds her for not taking care of herself and tells her to divorce Jun Ming since she can’t meet her expectations. Since then, she suffers from depression and is upset to learn that Jun Ming has married after that. Jun Ming returns to her after serious consideration and she recovers to help out at his clinic.

20. Xu Zhi Na – Sung Eun
She is Mei Zhen’s colleague who likes Fu Shui but is dismayed that he only likes Mei Zhen. Still, she wishes them well.

Favourite character

Fu Shui, he is a very considerate person to think of others before himself. As the only son, he is very responsible. He is so kind to resign so that others can keep their jobs.

Most hated character

Fu Nan. I can’t describe how much I dislike this character. She can be very selfish. Mei Zhen has to forgo her job assignment to make Xiu Lian stand instead on a Sunday just because she lies to go to the television station but to go for Taekwondo classes instead.

Interesting facts

After reading the script, Soo Kyung agreed to take up the assignment immediately. She was not bothered by her image at all. Many married women even commented that she acted just like them in real life. Ji Hoon was amused. Most women would want to look perfect on the screen but she did not. She was still attractive in his eyes. She was very considerate to all as she brought tidbits for all of them.

It was summer when the shooting started. All were touched when she forked out her own money to buy 60 small fans for them. This was really the best ‘daughter-in-law’ that he urged to have. He never had such good praise for his co-star and all teased him that he should marry her home. Although he was made to be an attractive man for his female subordinates at work, he complained that he was sweating profusely when wearing the business suits.

He sweated easily and the poor make-up artists had to attend to him frequently. This was his 13th drama and many only got to know him better after it. He got along well with all of them and they were a big family. He learned a lot from the veteran actors.

He is the youngest in the family with an elder brother and elder sister. He doesn’t belong to the traditional family and is very open-minded. However, he admitted that the traditional part of Fu Shui resembled him in real life. Hyun Sung and Sun Mi have worked in ‘Precious family’ as a married couple and they welcomed each other to act as a married couple again in here – except that this time, the marriage is an unhappy one.

Soo Kyung loved to eat pig hock and wasn’t afraid of gaining weight. Both of them gained lots of commercial deals when this drama was out. It was the second most watched drama at 31.7% as average. The cast was upset over Kim Eul Dong’s death due to cancer in 2009 and most attended her funeral.

Conclusion

I still can’t figure out why this drama is so popular with the Koreans. I find the plot very shallow – unlike ‘ Precious Family’ or ‘Famous Princesses’ which really covers the family lives in different aspects. It is very draggy and I can’t stomach it. This one only showing lots of squabbling, fighting and also arguing scenes. I soon grow tired of it. Luckily, I can forward the scenes as I borrowed the discs from a friend.

Plus, this drama is more based on the Korean contest. I find it appalling that in-laws can’t marry in-laws. Why can’t they? I see nothing wrong with it. In the Chinese context, cousins marrying each other is strongly discouraged but rich men can take in sisters as his wives and there isn’t any opposition at all!

Acting wise, it is also half-baked. I find them badly affected by the terrible script. It is astonishing to see how extensive plastic surgery is on the actresses. I can see wrinkles near the edge of their noses. As if their noses can fall off any minute. The part on Ming Ji having botox jabs depicts the true picture indeed.

Only watch if you really have nothing to watch. I am sure it can kill your time for 52 hours. It is a very long series which is painful for me to finish. One of the worst dramas that I have watched so far. The script writer should be held accountable for making it so boring and terrible.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)



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