Part of the reason this blog exists is so that I can write my long-winded contrarian and off-center opinions without upsetting the groupthink on Soompi and Dramabeans, or hijacking some other blog’s comment section.
After watching the first two episodes of “The Man Living in my House”, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I was interested to read so many comments critical of the relationship between Nan Gil and Na Ri’s now deceased mom, Shin Jung Im. Adding to the collective angst was the potential for Nan Gil to fall in love with his “step-daughter” Na Ri who is also older than he is.
My parents always wanted me to consider being a lawyer because I liked to argue so much as a child. Let’s see if I can be a pretend lawyer today and make a logical case for Nan Gil and Jung Im’s marriage, as well as a future relationship between Nan Gil and Na Ri as I break this down point by point:
- This show is based on a webtoon. Webtoons, mangas and manhwas are not noted for having plots based on cold hard reality. Prime example: “Boys over Flowers”. Yes, there are exceptions–like “Awl” or “Last” which were definitely centered on RL. So before you freak out over anything–remember that this show is based on a slightly fuzzy sense of reality. (P.S. Lee Soo Hyuk looks like he stepped out of a webtoon. The scene where the doctor thinks he’s ill and checks him out for being so pale was flat out hilarious.)
- After 2 episodes, it does not appear that there was any kind of coercion involved in the marriage between Shim Jung Im and Nan Gil. I think this is a very important point. They are two adults well past the age of consent. If they want to marry, who are they hurting? Is anyone being exploited or pressured? So far, it appears the answers to those questions is “no one”. Coercion and pressure to marry is revolting to me–and why I was so glad Ji Wook had a solid backbone to resist the pressure to marry that shrieky brat Ye La in “Start Again”!
- Some commentators have proposed that it was a business deal or a contract marriage. Okay, that may turn out to be true. However, Nan Gil expressly said that he married for love in Episode 2. He looked appropriately dejected and sad when mention was made of Jung Im’s accidental death. He still has her favorite song as his ringtone. Which brings this point up….
- Why couldn’t they have married for love? Maybe Nan Gil really did fall in love with Jung Im. Maybe she fell in love with him too. That’s not too difficult to fathom. We know her marriage to Na Ri’s father was a disaster; that bastard openly cheated on his wife and was more than likely a deadbeat father and not involved in his daughter Na Ri’s life. With her daughter grown and holding down a secure job, Jung Im may have finally allowed herself the luxury of putting herself and her needs first. She finds a cool young dude who’s interested in her ‘as a woman’ and/or ‘as a friend’ and she goes for it. That’s some healthy self esteem! Maybe Nan Gil was tired of materialistic, shallow and clingy girls and found a calm, mature and grounded woman like Jung Im much more fun to be around, whether as a friend or a lover.
- Nan Gil may be a lot of things, but he is certainly not a commitment-phobe. He married Jung Im, for crying out loud! None of this weak-sauce, ‘Let’s live together’ wimpy crap I heard in “Second to Last Love”! Nope, Nan Gil seems to have been more than willing to sign the marriage registration, and barring the tragic pedestrian/car accident his wife had, he would have been married to Jung Im for the next however-many years she had left. If there is a 30 year age gap (assuming Nan Gil is 25, Jung Im was 55 and Na Ri is 30) Jung Im could have been reasonably been expected to live 30-40 more years. He obviously knew that–and signed up for the marriage anyways.
- Okay, but it was just a business deal or ‘contract marriage’–right? It was done to keep the dumpling restaurant going, remove the irresponsible gambling uncle from the picture, keep the loan shark gangsters at bay, and/or give some sort of ‘protection’ to fatherless Na Ri. Mom may have suspected Na Ri’s jerky cheating boyfriend was a serious piece of work long ago, and hoped that Nan Gil could help navigate Na Ri away from that bozo. Even if all of the above is true, and I believe it could be–so what if Jung Im and Nan Gil did share a bed, sleep together and consummate their marriage? Whose business is it anyways? If they were happy–more power to them!
- Objection: Marriage with a 30 year age gap could never happen. Sorry–I personally know of two very happy marriages where the age gap is 26 and 29 years. One couple is childless by choice, one has ‘his-hers-and-ours’ kids. My own uncle married a woman 12+ years his senior, and they were very compatible together–and that was certainly not a ‘contract marriage’ either. This is probably why the age gap in “Secret Love Affair” did not bother me, along with the fact that my uncle and his wife were highly artistic individuals like Seon Jae and Hye Won. They operate a little bit differently than the rest of us. Also, is it not true that whether one is 25 or 55, you want someone to hang around that makes you feel good about yourself, and who cares for you?
- Another objection: it’s not okay if Nan Gil starts to fall in love with Na Ri. That’s really sketchy, since technically he’s her stepfather. Alrighty, I’d agree that that would be one tangled family tree. Still, I don’t think that it’s inconceivable that Nan Gil might fall in love with Na Ri in the future if he has not started to do that already. He probably sees some of the same qualities in daughter Na Ri that attracted him to her mother. Jung Im probably spoke very highly of her daughter to Nan Gil, so he thinks positively of her. In addition, we need to remember that Jung Im is now deceased. Their marriage vows said: “Till death do us part”. Nan Gil is single and free to date or marry again. He is not tied to Jung Im until he dies as well. Na Ri and Nan Gil are not blood relations either. Na Ri was an adult when her mom married Nan Gil, and didn’t even meet him until nearly a year after her mom’s death. Again, if Nan Gil and Na Ri fall in love–who gets hurt by this? Why would it be a problem? I will allow that it’s outside the “normal box”, but it’s not immoral or unethical IMHO. However, your opinion may vary!
- Objection: Nan Gil acts uncomfortable talking about his marriage to Jung Im around Na Ri. That means it was not really a marriage or it was faked. Hmmm. That’s reaching if you ask me. I think he feels bad that she didn’t hear about the marriage from her own mom, and had to hear it after her mom’s death from him. He might even feel crummy that he didn’t take more initiative to tell Na Ri about the marriage when Jung Im was still alive, or persuade Jung Im to do so.
- I note the townspeople seem comfortable with Nan Gil and he is friendly with them. That speaks volumes to me. Everyone must feel that he properly treated Jung Im with love and respect, or the gossip mill would have ground either one or both of them up already. There certainly would not be lines of people waiting for dumplings outside the restaurant if the locals felt this marriage was a sham or that he was a conman and a gigolo.
- One more objection: If Nan Gil and Jung Im had a legal marriage, someone like the funeral director should have said something to Na Ri at her mom’s funeral/memorial service, or Nan Gil should have spoken up then. Another reach. After a loved one’s death, expecting the survivors to act a certain way is pure foolishness. Some people look and act devastated, some try to carry on as if nothing happened, some act out in anger or become irrational, and some act like they are in a walking coma. Grief affects everyone differently. Nan Gil might have just freaked out at all of the people there and didn’t want to explain their marriage situation 100 times over. Even the funeral director could have forgotten in the chaos of the moment.
I really like the humorous and playful tone of this show. After the heavy sadness and WTF lunatic parenting seen in “On the Way to the Airport”, and the thoroughly hateful side characters in “Blow Breeze”, I was ready for something fun. I hope this show stays on the funny side of the street! Please feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section.