Ji Sung and time travel – two luscious ingredients for a perfect Kdrama. Who could ask for anything better? The show is called Familiar Wife (aka Wife I Know) and for the first few episodes it seemed like it was going to be a repeat of Go Back Couple but then it went its own way, a wonderful way, and I was, oh, so happy with the result!
What went wrong? The happy, loving relationship Cha Joo-Hyuk and Seo Woo-Jin enjoyed while dating rapidly began to unravel after they said “I do.” The warm, fun girl Joo-Hyuk fell in love has turned into a screaming, nagging, angry woman he can hardly stand to be around. And the once attentive and affectionate young man Woo-Jin married is now unhelpful and spending more and more time away from his family. The couple is miserable and so are the individuals. And to make matters worse, Joo-Hyuk runs into his first love and is stunned when she informs him she liked him back when they were in college. If he had only known that 12 years ago he could be happily married to Hye-Won instead of miserably holding on to an imploding relationship with Woo-Jin. And then, the impossible becomes possible with the help of a magic tole booth and a wormhole in time. Joo-Hyuk wakes up one morning and finds himself back in his old room, the one he occupied while in college, and his wall calendar shows it’s 2006! After a couple times back and forth through time Joo-Hyuk wakes up back in 2018 but he’s no longer married to Woo-Jin. He’s managed to change his past and now he’s the husband of his first love, Lee Hye-Won and she’s filthy rich. But is his wonderful new present really all that wonderful? And what’s Woo-Jin’s new present like?
Cha Joo-Hyuk busily juggles all his roles – husband, father of two, brother, son, friend, and a loan officer at a bank. Although he works very hard the poor man just manages to make ends meet. Although he once sincerely loved Woo-Jin time and stress has made him come to fear her explosive temper. He just wants to be happy again and only see escape as a means to that end. Traveling back and forth through time allows Joo-Hyuk to see the mistakes he made and the choices he regrets making, and that can’t help but change him.
Seo Woo-Jin was still in high school when she fell in love with Joo-Hyuk. He was her knight in shining armor and she knew right away she wanted to marry him. In order to be near him she had her parents hire him to be her tutor. Now, as well as being a wife and mother, Woo-Jin helps out financially by working as a masseuse at a spa. She is the main caretaker of the kids and the house and wishes her husband would help out more. Her mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and she’s worried about how they will be able to afford her care.
Lee Hye-Won is Cha Joo-Hyuk’s “heavenly first love” with a “… smile as bright as a flower.” She is a cellist who did some of her education abroad. Her father is the owner and CEO of a huge conglomerate and the girl has always been catered to. She believes she is better than other people and wants a man who will bow to her every whim.
A fun surprise was Cho Jung-Seok reprising his role as Kang Sun-Woo, the handsome, talented, and totally arrogant head chef at Sun Restaurant in the Kdrama Oh My Ghostess. That character makes a guest appearance in episode 15 as Woo-Jin’s senior from her school days. However, over the passage of time (from one drama to the next) he has become even more egotistical and much more rich and famous than when we first got to know him. What bothered me was that he obviously liked Woo-Jin so I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to his relationship with Na Bong-Sun.
I love Ji Sung, absolutely adore him, and it’s not simply because he’s perfectly handsome but because the man can act circles around most folks. He’s incredible in everything I’ve seen him in and that includes his role as Cha Joo-Hyuk in this. He’s a master of comedy as well as romance and drama. He does it all. If you want some information about him go to my Defendant review. If you’re interested in more great Ji Sung shows I suggest Kill Me, Heal Me, Entertainer, Protect the Boss, Secret Love, and Save the Last Dance for Me (which is the show where he first met his wife).
Hyde, Jekyll, Me was my introduction to Han Ji-Min, the actress who plays Seo Woo-Jin, and I thought she was great. However, that was the last time I saw her until now. Ji-Min began her entertainment career while still in high school doing commercial films and some music videos. Then, in 2003 she was in the hit Kdrama All In and people began to notice her. She said she never really thought of being a serious actress but being in All In changed her mind. She has acted in both films and TV and was even the host of Entertainment Weekly from 2006 to 2008. She is a Social Welfare major from Seoul Women’s University and is well known for all the volunteer work and fund drives she participates in. She is the author of the book We’re Already Friends: Han Ji-Min’s Philippines Donation Book which contains drawings and stories of the time she spent helping a school in a mountain village in the Philippines. All the royalties she received from the sale of the book was donated to educating North Korean children and helping other developing countries throughout Asia. What an awesome lady!
Isn’t there something about your life you’d like to change? Maybe something you were so sure of that didn’t turn out the way you thought it would? If you’re anything like Joo-Hyuk you may have even thought you’d love the chance for a “do over.” But if there’s one thing the writer wants us to know it is that second chances don’t do us any good unless we learn from our mistakes.
Because there are big problems with his romantic relationships Joo-Hyuk begins to blame himself for their collapse. He takes on the burden of fault each time and comes to the conclusion he’s 100% the problem. But the writer wants us to know that most often the fault for a deteriorating relationship can be evenly split two ways.
The story starts out with Joo-Hyuk and Woo-Jin already married so we learn about the beginnings of their relationship through Joo-Hyuk’s memory flashbacks. The more I saw, the more I felt sorry for the couple. They were so much in love. Things were good. There was a promise of years and years of happiness. How did they become so miserable? What made it all crumble? I figured out the answer to those questions a bit sooner than Joo-Hyuk did but I’m sure he thought, better late than never.
I really would like to write more about this drama but I don’t want to give too much away. This is a show that needs to be watched. Too much telling will suck out all the step-by-step discoveries you’ll make along the way and I don’t want to do that to you. I strongly suggest you take time to watch Familiar Wife. I can honestly say it’s in the top three of my favorite Kdramas of 2018 thus far.
I can’t classify this show under just one genre. We enjoy giggles because of its light moments of comedy, but there’s also lots of romance with decent kisses, and even some introspection thanks to its dramatic moments.
I don’t rely on a drama’s ratings too much but in the case of this show I think they’re pretty accurate. Familiar Wife aired on a cable network which always has a much smaller viewing audience than free channels so the ratings are usually much lower than those of other networks. But Familiar Wife actually did very well – beginning its 16 episode run with a high 4.9% rating and bumping it way up to 9.7%!
I only caught one “oops” and it’s during a kiss. Woo-Jin places her hand on Joo-Hyuk’s shoulder when she kisses him but somehow it’s more on his neck when we see a closeup. That’s it.
Were you aware of the fact that Ji Sung can do the splits? Watch for that particular talent in the first episode! His character also does a whole lot of running throughout the show. The guy seems to be in great shape.
Familiar Wife’s entire soundtrack is excellent and every song compliments the story perfectly. SF9 performs a great song entitled Love Me Again. Let Me Stay is a slow song sung by John Park which desperately pleads “Don’t leave me alone.” Roy Kim croons No Longer Mine which I consider to be the theme song. It’s played often throughout the drama without ever getting monotonous. The words are sad and haunting, “You are my life… You’re no longer mine.” Let Me Show You, sung by N.Flying, gives us the reflective words, “Thought I was down, not even close.” You in My Dreams is a slow, soft song with great harmony, and Hello is a pretty song with a hopeful feel to it. Please check out the soundtrack sometime. It’s lovely.
The bank is probably the most used background in this show but it’s Joo-Hyuk’s homes that play such an important part of the story. His home at the beginning of the drama is a humble but nice structure that is a cluttered, frantic mess. His home with Hye-Won is huge and furnished with all the best and most modern things imaginable but very emotionally cold. And his home at the end of the show is… nope, I’m not giving it away. Watch and see for yourself.
The best thing about Familiar Wife (aside from the fact that it stars the amazing multi award winning actor Ji Sung) is the last episode. The writer knew exactly how to end this story so that we are able to say goodbye to these characters with optimism and cheer. In fact, the first 15 episodes are a mere set up for the last hour. It’s been a long time since I enjoyed such a perfect ending.
Here’s something to ponder – “The world is full of people who haven’t walked on paths available to them.” – Familiar Wife
Superb acting (especially Ji Sung)
Wonderful, romantic story
Interesting viewing the different outcome of choices
Chemistry between Ji Sung and Han Ji-Min