|The cast of "Wife Returns" at the press conference [SBS]|
“Nobody here has come up with the right answer.” Actor Park Jung-chul, who will appear in the new SBS daily TV series “Wife Returns”, said about journalists’ predictions about how the mystery will unfold for actress Kang Sung-yun, who plays twins in the drama. “Wife Returns” is a melodrama and mystery material, despite the title which makes one think of TV dramas “Temptation of a Wife” and “Two Wives” which previously aired in the same time slot. The press conference, held October 27 at SBS headquarters, was attended by producer Lee Hyun-seok, director Lee Yong-seok, actors Jo Min-ki, Kang Sung-yun, Yoon Se-ah, Park Jung-chul, Kim Moo-yul, Lee Chae-young and Jun Min-seo.
The actors, including Jo Min-ki, asked not to compare the drama to “Temptation of a Wife” and “Two Wives” just based on the title. But the plot of “Wife Returns”, about a tortured wife returning for revenge, cannot help but remind us of “Temptation”. Of course, how they return is completely different; in “Temptation”, a real wife pretends to be a different person whereas in “Returns” the wife’s younger twin pretends to be the older one. But the biggest difference between the two dramas is the information given to the viewers. In “Temptation”, Kyo-bin’s family are not aware of Min So-hee’s identity, but viewers have the advantage of watching the revenge because they know everything. But “Returns” does not show all its cards to the viewers. It can be assumed that Yoo-kyung pretends to be Yoo-hee (played by Kang Sung-yun), the older twin sister who has disappeared, but all other information is hidden in the plot so the viewers too have to keep searching for answers amidst the confusion. With its sensational and interesting plot, can “Returns” really be the drama that “will drop viewers into a deep hole”, as actress Kang Sung-yun described it?
One person gives, the other receives. That is how twin sisters Yoo-hee and Yoo-kyung have lived their lives. Growing up in an orphanage, they get a chance to be adopted by an American family. Yoo-hee yields the opportunity to Yoo-kyung who was born with a heart disease. Afterwards, Yoo-kyung grows up loved by her wealthy adopted parents and receives good education, while Yoo-hee is abused by her stepmother and her marriage to her true love (played by Jo Min-ki) falls apart because of her mother-in-law. Yoo-kyung, who has received everything all her life, steps forward to help the sister who has lost everything. “Yoo-hee sacrifices herself for her sister, husband and child, but Yoo-kyung is very cool-headed and thorough. Their backgrounds are so different that that alone will create two different performances.”
Jo Min-ki defined his character Sang-woo as someone who “comes from a rich family, is intelligent, indecisive and innocent -- the sum of all the characters I’ve played in melodramas.” The key word here is “indecisive”. Sang-woo truly loves Yoo-kyung and is a pure, kind-hearted romanticist who married her against his parent’s wishes. But he is also a helpless husband, who is both unaware and unable to stop Yoo-kyung from leaving him because of her daughter Da-eun’s heart surgery fees. It is neither an affair nor a betrayal when he marries new love Min Seo-hyun (played by Yoon Se-ah), but it is seen as something hateful from Yoo-kyung’s perspective. “I’m a little embarrassed to do melodramas now because of my age. I apologized to my two co-stars during the first rehearsal,” he said.
What is interesting about “Returns” is that even though the main plots deals with revenge, the revenge is actually aimed at good people. Like Sang-woo, Seo-hyun also comes from a rich family and is a devoted wife and mother. It is easy to presume her good background knowing that she first met Sang-woo when she was returning from a medical volunteer program. But to Yoo-kyung, she is just someone who stole her sister’s happiness and became Sang-woo’s second wife. So Yoo-kyung tries to take everything from Sang-woo and Seo-hyun, who, in order to protect what she has, goes through changes and slowly goes through a breakdown. “They say actors are not supposed to feel compassion for their characters, but I was heartbroken and sad to see Seo-hyun. She could be considered a villain but there is a reason for it.”
Kim Moo-yul takes on the bad guy role of Han Gang-soo after previously having playing the villain Si-wan in “Iljimae” at the request of director Lee Yong-seok. The difference between Han Gang-soo and other villain characters in the so-called “trashy dramas” is that he was a good man who turns bad after a failed love. In other words, the reason he approaches Min Seo-hyun’s half-sister Min Yi-hyun (played by Lee Chae-young), tries to get his hands on the Min family’s wealth and destroy Sang-woo is because his devoted love for Yoo-hee was rejected. He loved her enough to risk prison and embezzle company funds and give it to her. That is why the revenge of Gang-soo, along with Yoo-kyung’s, feels almost justifiable. “I feel like I’ve become the professional villain-role actor in my early twenties. But it’s a role that is worth taking on.”
What to watch
There were six different shots of pairs taken at the press conference. That is how complicated the relationships between characters are. Sang-woo marries two women, Yoo-hee and Seo-hyun. Yoo-hee leaves Sang-woo and moves in with Gang-soo. Yoo-kyung, who lives Yoo-hee’s life, falls in love with Seo-hyun’s brother Min Young-hoon (played by Park Jung-chul) who appears after twenty episodes. Gang-soo marries Seo-hyun’s half-sister Yi-hyun for revenge. The relationships are so closely related that we don’t even need to play the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Game, where everyone knows everyone by the sixth relationship. Viewers will need to remember this complicated family tree to not get lost in the drama’s storyline.