Recap: Ooh la la Spouses Episode 1

Yet another first episode recap as introduction to the new drama in town which is raking in the ratings.

Episode 1

The episode opens with Sayori (Kim Jung-eun), dressed in a geisha getup, seducing an important Japanese general to fish for information on the visiting governor. 

She relays the information to her lover later that night – a reporter (Shin Hyun-joon) and they kiss. Ok. We’re in a scene from Japanese occupation (a reference to his Gaksital connection?? Hee.) And whoa…a kiss so early in the drama?
With the information, he shows up at the welcoming parade for the governor. He seems to be in cohorts with another man, passing to him a wrapped object discreetly. He moves away then nods to the man as the governor makes his way to his car. The man unlocks a *gulps* a grenade and throws it in the air. The camera follows the grenade trajectory dramatically before it falls to the ground and explodes.

In the next scene, we see a soldier coming for Sayori. She requests to be granted permission to dress in full. A moment later, Sayori is sitting alone in a room, dressed in her pretty kimono. She reads a letter by her lover: “Even though we’d arrive in this world separately, I would like for us to leave together. Let us live happily ever after as husband and wife in the next lifetime”. There’s a knife on the table before her…
Hyun-joong comes running but he’s too late. She’s already dead. Cue a despair scream.

Cut to modern day. A decidedly ahjumma-like Na Yeo Ok tries to rouse her sleepy hubby, Go Soo Nam from bed. He drags himself out of bed, all grumpy-like. She tells him to fix the bed and he’s like: “Didn’t you sleep on that bed as well? That’s a household chore. Men outside, women inside.” She grumbles to herself as she fixes the bed, regretting to have married him for his looks. Hah.

As she goes about her other domestic duty – cooking, she’s bombarded by requests by other occupants of the house who’re clearly dependent on her: her mother-in-law, sister-in-law (Go Il-ran) and son. And of course her hubby - who growls at her for touching his wallet. She’s speechless. What does he take her for - a thief? He reminds her that she did take out a note once. (That’s it? One pathetic note?). But it was for the laundry…anyway she’s had enough. They’ve been married for 12 years and while she doesn’t expect to be treated like a lady, she does expect to be treated like a human. He doesn’t really get all that and continues to shout at her. Boo.

Anyway all that nagging requests gets to her and she declares that she’s had enough. She’s going on a strike! LOL. Hubby thinks it’s ridiculous. She’s a freaking housewife. She scans their faces, irked that all these people are so dependent on her. After a longish rant at her hubby, she removes her apron and declares that she’s done. Haha.

 Hubby is a hotel manager. At the moment he’s complaining about his striking wife to a bemused and sympathetic colleague, the hotel chef judging by the look of his attire. Well, his version of the story totally paints her as the irrational party who’s overacting because he griped at her a little. (Hello? Though I’ve heard Korean men are more macho and all). He’s going to have to show her who’s boss.

Anyway, he’s interrupted by a message from the reception counter who informs him that a certain lady Han Man-soo, a VVIP hotel guest is looking for him. Well, what’s a little suspicious is the number of love signs in the message. An affair or a crush?

Soo-nam checks with the reception if room 307 is available. It’s not – a Mr Robin has booked it until tomorrow. So he asks for an empty room on 4th floor. She informs him room 427 is empty. He tells her he’ll bring lady Han there and orders breakfast for room 307. Oy I’m confused. Anyway, girl looks like she’s got a huge crush on him. She looks so dejected when he wouldn't meet her eyes.

Lady Han is totally pleased with his arrangements. He remembers she’s fond of roses and brought her favourite wine. She rants about her inattentive husband whom she’s thinking of divorcing. Soo-nam puts on his smiley face but fidgets uncomfortably. She thinks he must be quite the attentive husband at home too, just like how he treats her. Hah.

Cut to wife, Yeo-ok who’s complaining about her husband to a friend, Ae-suk (Whew, another round of complains). Yeo-ok is frustrated that her hubby doesn’t even treat her half as nice as he does the customers of his hotel. He undergoes a 180 degree change at home – behaves like a king and refuses to help out with the chores. Basically he treats her like a slave and therefore his family doesn’t respect her.

Yeo-ok finally notices that her friend is tuning out and sighing heavily. Turns out friend’s hubby, lawyer Lee is having an affair with a spinster employee at his company, who’s ugly as hell. (Really?) Yeo-ok takes over. So what is her plan? Divorce? Friend is not keen on divorce. Yeo-ok declares that a woman only raises the knife once in her life – when the husband cheats on her. *Gulps* Scary. Yeo-ok assures her she’ll take care of everything and she only needs to follow her lead. And they should act right away. No time for doubts.

Yeo-ok confronts the woman, Bae Jung-ah (cameo by Nam Gyu-ri) who is by no means ugly. LOL. She introduces herself as someone recommended by Lee’s law firm.

At the hotel, Soo-nam’s supervisor suddenly announces that he would be relocating to Seattle soon and his place would be taken over by Soo-nam or his rival Manager Kang. Both of them perk at this piece of news. Battle mode, on! As Kang reports his progress with their Japanese tour group, Soo-nam totally steals his thunder by interjecting his input which paints Kang in an incompetent light. Hah.

Once they are out of the office, Kang grabs Soo-nam by the collar, totally pissed. But Soo-nam is unapologetic and smooth. Poor Kang is no match for him. Nevertheless, Kang gives a pretty toothless warning to Soo-nam: do not to attempt any backhanded tactic or he’ll bite, like a dog whose food was stolen. LOL. They’re like totally within kissing distance during this exchange and my mind just wandered elsewhere. Hee.

Back to Yeo-ok who manages to bring Jung-ah to a café where Ae-suk is waiting. And so the confrontation begins. Jung-ah is initially confused by her hostile behavior. However, she quickly recovers her composure. She sizes her up and assumes Yeo-ok is Lee’s wife. Jung-ah is not fazed at all and claims that she’s been wanting to meet her as well. She refers to Lawyer Lee as oppa which riles Yeo-ok up. LOL. Even I’m confused who’s the wife. Jung-ah rolls her eyes impatiently and continues. She claims that Lee feels conflicted because he wants to break off with his wife who’s been with him since she was 18 years old. Both ladies form huge ‘O’s.

Then she has the nerve to tell them that they should discuss the matter calmly and not lose it like the ahjummas on tv. The real Mrs.Lee finally loses it. She splashes Jung-ah with water and grabs her hair in anger and pushes her to the floor. Jung-ah collects herself from the floor and remarks that her friend is really invested which is when Yeo-ok finally explains that Ae-suk’s the real Mrs. Lee. Jung-ah thinks what they’re doing is useless and only serves to push the husband away. Now the husband will have no qualms about leaving her.

Ae-suk is really on fire now and throws the newspaper-wrapped knife on the table. Jung-ah’s eyes widen in fear when she finds the knife after removing the wrapper. Ae-suk stabs the knife in the middle of the table, which is conveniently wood, and declares that the only way to resolve their problem is to for either one of them to die.  Yeo-ok and Jung-ah cower in fear. LOL. How the tables are turned. When Ae-suk reaches for the knife, Jung-ah clings to her arm, apologizing profusely and promises to back off. Yeo-ok also threatens to send the picture she snapped of Jung-ah holding the knife to her company if she reneges on her promise. Jung-ah hightails out of there.

The source of all those drama - Lawyer Lee Baek-ho is still trying to call his sweetheart who is at the moment crying her heart out in a toilet cubicle, still very much traumatized. Never mess with ahjummas I say. Said ahjummas are enjoying their victory coffee but funnily enough, Yeo-ok is now the bold one and Ae-suk has returned to her cowering self. Her problem solved, she asks Yeo-ok about her plans. Yeo-ok is insistent on continuing the strike. No way she’s throwing the towel. Unlike Ae-suk, she’s not the kind to compromise. It’s “an eye for an eye” for her. This is so funny considering how freaked out she was in the confrontation earlier.

Soo-nam receives another text inviting him over for dinner with lots of love symbols again. Hah. It really is an affair. He smiles happily at the text.

His smile is still intact as he attends to Lady Han who’s in the mood for another round of divorce-talk. He shares his opinion in the gentlest of voice: “Spouses not only share a blanket, they comfort each other’s wound and accept each other’s faults.” Jeez, he really does have a jekyl and hide personality. Lady Han is impressed with his speech but still unwilling to give in. Just then, the husband shows up to patch things up, tipped off by Soo-nam. Soo-nam makes his graceful exit as Lady Han continues gushing about his gentleman attitude.

On his drive home, Il-ran calls to tell him that Yeo-ok is serious about the strike. She didn’t make dinner and they had to order out. So he’d better clean up his mess. Soo-nam calls his lover to tell her he can’t make it. He tells her about his wife and her strike which cracks her up. She is a little upset that he never paid any attention to her at work but he explains that people might notice. He’s sorry for today and promises to meet up with her tomorrow which cheers her up.

Back home, his good mood vanishes without a trace. Yeo-ok overhears him badmouthing about her even as mum tries to convince him to speak to her nicely. He calls her an old hag and ignorant which clearly upsets her. Especially since she knows he treats his customer way better than her. Are his customers more precious than her? Soo-nam shouts impatiently that the customers are the reason he can provide for the family. Everyone else nods in agreement and she can’t exactly fault that logic.

Right. On to the next issue, she dislikes how he speaks to her, ordering her around like she’s a maid. Basically she’s asking for some acknowledgement and respect but it doesn’t seem like he’s going to oblige her. She is determined to change his attitude though and declares that she wants a separation. They’ve bought a separate apartment 5 years ago and she’s made her decision. And if he doesn’t move out, she will move out with Ki-chan (the son). And to prove that she’s serious, she strides out of the house without turning back.

A grandpa operating a noodle stall is startled by the sudden appearance of a youngish girl. What is she? A fairy? And when I say startled, it isn’t that he’s surprised that she can appear like that. More like he hadn’t expected her to. Anyway, they seem to recognize Yeo-ok who’s wandered here alone. Fairy girl recognizes her as Sayori. Oh?

Flashback to reporter boy sending off Sayori in a boat full of flowers.  He apologizes that she’s leaving first but if fate permits, they’ll be husband and wife for sure. I dunno if this scene is suppose to be serious but the cheesiness cracks me up.

Back to the dejected figure of Yeo-ok. Grandpa who’s in human form growls at the fairy girl who’s invisible to others, thinking that she messed up his matchmaking efforts.

Next day, Yeo-ok is still dead set on moving out despite pleas from mum. She plans to stay away for a year to teach the boys a lesson so that she’s more appreciated. 

She’s arranged to meet the tenant of the apartment but they’re not at home. She tries the password for the security lock which unlocks much to her surprise. That means the tenant did not change them. She couldn’t tamp her curiosity and enters the house to take a look. She hears footsteps and freaks out. Just as she opens the door, she sees her husband walking through the corridor with a woman on his arm. She shuts the door and hides in reflex.

But …they’re heading right for this apartment! She slips into the bathroom just before the two of them enters the apartment. Soo-nam remarks that she hasn’t changed the password. It’s his birthdate and easy to remember so she hadn’t bothered. He gazes at her lovingly and they lock lips…which of course is witnessed by Yeo-ok, who is stunned beyond words. Worse – she sees him carry the woman off into the bedroom for some sexy times. Ooof. She hits her chest repeatedly, her mental pain translating physically and rushes out of the house gasping for breath. Soo-nam thinks he heard a noise but sees nothing. And the two adulterers resume kissing. Can’t believe I’m saying this. I hate the kiss scenes. Urgh.

While the two snuggle and kiss, Yeo-ok barely drags herself in to the elevator, intent to run away as far as possible, still gasping hard. She throws herself into the path of an oncoming car  and asks to be sent to the nearest pharmacy. She’s asthmatic? The driver turn Samaritan helps her to a pharmacy where two puffs from an inhaler miraculously stops her hyperventilation. She’s better now but tears still fall.

She broods by the Han river but her thoughts are interrupted by…herself? An apparition of herself in white asks her the exact questions she posed to Ae-suk earlier. What is her plan? Does she want a divorce? Only when she’s decided that they can take the next course of action. Only when the situation is reversed, she’s no longer confident and sure. Her apparition tells her that divorce is not easy even for her. Does she want to follow her own advice to Ae-suk and threaten the woman? Yeo-ok is too depressed for that. She feels hurt and betrayed. So her apparition tells her to forgive him, since it’s the first time he’s cheated on her. But wait, Yeo-ok recalls the times where he’s not come home, citing work. And the fact that he’s planted her in the apartment they’ve worked so hard for, angers her.

OK I think I get this. She’s arguing with herself. Anyway, her other self tells her to consider her son’s feeling which gives her pause. 7 out of 10 people regret getting divorce. If she ignores it, it will pass, buried and forgotten in time. Yeo-ok feels it’s impossible, not when she saw them with her very own eyes. And there’s no way she can resume life with him with this knowledge. So what’s next? Break up. But not just like that. First she needs to get the apartment transferred under her name and some cash too. And she needs evidence of their adultery. Hah. Finally a voice of reason. It’s what I’d do! You need to strike back, and hit him where it hurts most.

Yeo-ok returns home all meek and offers o make dinner for mum. But mum, anxious to make amends, assures her that she need not trouble herself. Even Il-ran promises to help out with the chores. Yeo-ok laughs between tears and announces that her strike is over. She’s not even going to move out.

In the privacy of her room, Yeo-ok gets another asthmatic attack just thinking about scene she saw. And before she’s fully composed herself, Soo-nam is home. Mum informs him the strike is over and he gets all rankled, thinking that she’s putting up a show.  

He storms into the room, ready for a fight and to re-establish his position. But Yeo-ok is surprisingly submissive and accepts his tantrum without a word, which sort of deflates him. Hah. He continues to be insulting and Yeo-ok has to mentally prep herself to hold it all in. But his warning about kicking her out of the house upsets her so much she couldn’t help lashing out at him. His insults hurt her pride more than him cheating on her. Oops. He coughs unnaturally and takes offense at her comparison. She too tries to hide her slip of tongue by laughing it off, again with tears. He calls her crazy and she apologizes, leaving the room. And it’s back to the dishes again.

Cut to a bedroom scene between Soo-nam and his lover where they exchange heartfelt sweet nothings before making out. The scene zooms out into a laptop screen! What’s more, Soo-nam is watching the footage in shock before a very mad Yeo-ok. Oh! She’s found her evidence?


The mood is light but I don’t have any urge to laugh in this episode. Shin Hyun-joon is devilishly handsome but I have zero good feelings for him here, now. I’m one of those who feel pretty strongly about adultery/cheating. Soo-nam is like a total jerk. Gah. I know it means lots of room for improvement and character growth but man does he piss me off. It’s a wonder I didn’t tune out right away. It’s a good thing I really like Shin or else I’d be totally put off to watch another episode.

The whimsical component is minimal in this episode which basically highlights Yeo-ok problematic relationship with her philandering husband who has zero respect for her. It’s good she’s got some backbone in her and I love that she tries to fight back instead of being all meek and submissive. The part where she witnessed her husband making out with another woman is definitely a cruel blow. But kudos for her for taking charge.

Adultery is like a recurring theme in this episode and because it’s something I’m not too fond of, this episode leaves a bitter taste for me. I must stress that there’s nothing wrong with the directing/acting/soundtrack and the story actually flows really nicely. Nevertheless, I guess this means that I’m not keen on recapping this drama. Sigh.

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