Don’t pay any attention to the plot synopsis circulating the internet concerning the new Kdrama entitled My Husband Oh Jack-Doo (aka My Husband, Mr. Oh). What I read had absolutely nothing to do with the show I just saw. Let me tell you what it’s about…
Freelance TV producer Han Seung-Joo is perfectly happy being a 35 year old single woman who is “married to her job.” Right now, the top priority in her life is producing a hit documentary to add to her filmography so she can be hired as a full-time employee at a major broadcasting company. She’s thrilled when she’s finally given the opportunity to produce one having to do with the deceased gayageum craftsman, Oh Geum-Bok, who is an intangible cultural property in Korea. Fifteen years ago, right after the old man passed away, his grandson, Oh Hyuk, disappeared and has been hiding out in the mountains ever since. Recently, one gayaguema a year, built with the old master’s technique, has been given out anonymously, and the speculation is that it must be Oh Hyuk’s doing. So, with nothing to go on except the vague address of “Jinan, Gura Village” Seung-Joo heads off to a remote part of the country in search of Oh Hyuk, determined to produce a documentary worthy of the critics accolades. On her journey she meets a kind “country bumpkin“ named Oh Jak-Doo but is unable to find even a single clue concerning the man she is looking for and ends up going back to Seoul empty handed.
When a young woman is murdered in Seung-Jo’s home, the trauma forces Seung-Joo to rethink her single status – having a husband around to protect her could be beneficial. She is surprised when she gets a visit from the stranger she met on the mountain, Oh Jak-Doo, pleading with her to protect his little home on the mountain she just inherited from her aunt. One evening as she is being physically attacked, Oh Jak-Doo comes to her rescue which gives Seung-Joo an idea. If Jak-Doo will agree to marry her and stay as her guardian just until the police catch her attacker, she will make sure nothing happens to his home on her mountain. Win/win situation, right? Will the deal go as planned or will close quarters help the two strangers see each other in a new light and throw a monkey wrench in their verbal contract?
Emotional wounds from her childhood have taught Han Seung-Joo to be a strong, independent woman. She realizes marriage is not what defines a woman, in fact, she tells a friend, “ The only times I envy married women are when I can’t get tax deductions for my medical insurance and when I can’t order food because they don’t deliver for one serving.” She faces her challenges head on and doesn’t look back. She can defend herself and argue with anyone who stands in her way. But the fear of physical harm and possibly even death has humbled her and forced her to lean on someone for the first time in her life. Her biggest trial is her family – a selfish, demanding mother who shows no signs of love for her daughter at all, and an immature, self-entitled younger brother who has no problem using his big sister to get what he wants.
Isolating himself on the mountain, Oh Jak-Doo loves his quiet, laid-back life style. He picks herbs during the day, which he sells in town for money, and crafts gayageums in the evening. He is sensitive to the needs of others and is always looking for ways to help his fellow man. He has emotionally adopted three old ladies, who live in the village, as his grandmothers and takes care of them – chopping their wood and helping them farm. Jak-Doo is a hardworking, honest, kind man.
Oh Hyuk blamed himself for his beloved grandfather’s death and chose to leave secular society, hiding away in his cabin home since the old man passed away, never venturing past the tiny village below his mountain home.
Wealthy businessman Eric Jo, born Jo Bong-Sik, is the man who wants to make the documentary about Oh Geum-Bok. He has a pretty big opinion of himself and loves to throw some English words at random into things he says. His company manufactures gayageums the modern way – with machinery. His first encounter with Producer Han was an old fashioned battle of wits, which Han won, and he fell in love with her that very moment. His heart is broken when he discovers Seung-Joo is married to an unsophisticated, penniless hillbilly who is nowhere near his social match, however he is thrilled to be able to work next to her on the documentary.
When Oh Hyuk was a young boy he was taught by his grandfather how to hand craft beautiful gayageums. The first one he built on his own was presented to his girl friend, Jang Eun-Jo, as a gift. Now, as an adult, Eun-Jo is a famous gayageum player, performing in sold out concerts around the world. She misses Oh Hyuk and desperately wants to find him, bring him out of hiding, and begin their romance anew. Eun-Jo is soft-spoken, beautiful, quite talented, and (due to the fact that she is Oh Hyuk’s first love) an intricate part of the documentary plans.
After watching his performance as the title character in this drama I’ve decided Kim Kang-Woo needed to be added to my favorite actors list. I wonder why I waited so long to do it. If you’d like some information on this excellent actor you can check out my Circle: Two Worlds Connected review.
To learn a bit about Kim Yu-Jin, better known as Uee, the very talented beauty that plays Han Seung-Joo, you can go to my review of Marriage Contract.
Sorry, but I wasn’t able to scrape together any information on extremely talented Jung Sang-Hoon, the hilarious guy that plays Eric Jo, other than the fact that in 2016 he won the PD’s Choice Award, Variety category for his role of being a Saturday Night Live Korea cast member. Guess that’s where all that entertaining silly comes from. He also received the Best Supporting Actor (Television) award for his role as a cheating husband in the 2017 Kdrama The Lady in Dignity.
To learn a little about Han Sun-Hwa, the actress that plays Jang Eun-Joo, you can go to my review of Bing Goo.
What does Evergreen, She Was Pretty, and Let’s Fight Ghost all have in common? Well, each one has a wonderful supporting character that makes the show much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise, and My Husband Oh Jak-Doo is the newest drama to be added to that group. Three cheers for actor Jung Sang-Hoon! He made me smile throughout every episode! I’m keeping my fingers crossed he’ll be able to take home a Best Supporting Actor award for his darling portrayal of Eric Jo. His character is darling (a fantastic comic relief role) and the man is a proper little scene stealer. The drama just wouldn’t have been as fun without Jung Sang-Hoon/Eric Jo!
I love the sentiment of this Kdrama. Aside from the fact that it reminds us to not judge others this show espouses the slow down mentality. We’re taught that one doesn’t need “things” to consider themself rich, and fame and fortune does not describe who we are. It’s impossible to not like Oh Jak-Doo’s peaceful attitude and character.
Since My Husband Oh Jak-Doo is based on the gayageum, after I finished the 24 episode/hour drama, I went to the internet to see how well the show kept with reality. Happily, it all fit perfectly. Here’s a bit of what I learned…
The gayageum is probably the best known, traditional Korean instrument. It is a bit like a zither and has 12 strings. When played, the sound varies between traditional Eurasian stringed instruments and the Appalacian banjo. It’s body is made of a single piece of paulownia wood. The tone is soft delicate and subtle. A recent archaeological excavation revealed fragments of a gayaguem from around the first century BCE. The wood used to make these instruments is a central focus of the show as well. The paulownia tree cannot thrive in the shade of other trees and is able to grow from small cracks in pavements and walls. They grow from 33 to 82 feet tall, have a lovely fragrance, and are native to central and western China. According to Jak-Doo, “Paulownia trees are born with sounds inside.” He tenderly teaches Seung-Joo that when the craftsman/player finds the right sound they “… say it is delicious.” He goes on to tell her, “… gayageum is the only musical instrument that you have to use your whole body to make sounds. That’s why it sounds so warm. You don’t play gayageum. You have to flow with it.”
According to this drama, everything surrounding the crafting and playing of guyageum is philosophical. I loved it.
There are a few “oops” moments here and there throughout the show but they are tiny and not even worth mentioning, except one. Seung-Joo gets a rather large scratch on her cheek. When she’s eating breakfast it’s clearly an obvious wound but by the afternoon there’s not even a hint there was any injury at all. Other than that one, the show is so good the minuscule editing errors don’t even matter.
As far as “just kick back and comfortably watch a Kdrama” goes, My Husband Oh Jak-Doo is my second favorite drama so far this year. (Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me is #1.)
All of the music in this show is wonderful. There’s few enough that you begin to recognize the song and hum along now and then but not so few that they begin to get monotonous. Please is a heartbreaking sounding ballad which starts out soft and gentle yet quickly builds in strength and power. It’s absolutely beautiful. A happy sounding ukulele is the main accompanying instrument throughout the light, cute song entitled I Smile Secretly Too. The song Shalala sounds like the sweetness that comes after a difficult trial and is probably my favorite on the soundtrack. If the show has a theme song, Only You would probably be it. It’s fast and fun. A Story Only You Don’t Know is an uptempo love song that got my toes tapping as soon as it began playing. The entire soundtrack is very enjoyable.
We’re used to dramas being set in the big cities of Korea and ones that take place in ancient times, such as the Joseon dynasty, but a good chunk of My Husband Oh Jak-Doo’s setting is very much out of the ordinary. Jak-Doo lives alone on a mountain in what I consider to be an old fashioned Korean cabin. I have to admit, though, I was surprised his tiny shelter had electricity. The mountain view is exquisite. I really enjoyed those scenes.
I highly recommend you take some time to watch My Husband Oh Jak-Doo. It’s going on my “repeat” list because it’s really that good and I’d enjoy seeing it again sometime. Don’t miss this endearing love story. It’s simply excellent.
Lovable main characters
Oh Jak-Doo and Han Seung-Jo’s chemistry
Kim Kang-Woo and Uee’s chemistry
Funny Eric Jo
Great love story
Charming mountain scenery
Just a few tiny “oops”
2 thoughts on “My Husband Oh Jak-Doo”
Thank you for your comprehensive and insightful review.
Besides the fantastic plot it was such a unique and meaningful idea to create a drama around a musical instrument, especially seeing the gayageum’s cultural significance for Korea.
By the way, you mentioned the Black Knight; it was the first K-drama I watched and enjoyed immensely, especially since it was done in a place very close to where I grew up.
I’m so glad your first Kdrama experience was with Black Knigh: The Man Who Guards Me. How wonderful to have grown up in such a pretty area. Did you recognize any places in the show? I hope you’ll keep watching Kdramas. There’s so many great ones out there. Hopefully my favorite drama list and my perfect score list will help you in choosing what to watch next. (I always suggest Secret Garden whether you’re new to the Kdrama scene or not.) Happy watching.