We’ve finally reached the ending for our funny, relatable, and ever-growing characters. In the process of navigating their complicated marriages, relationships, and divorce, our characters learned that things are never as easy as they seem and that relationships are not all just black and white. Like all things, marriage and even divorce require work – lots of it.
Note: I would just like to thank everyone who joined me in this recapping journey of ‘Matrimonial Chaos.’ It feels so so odd to already finish this drama since it just feels like yesterday when I was struggling to catch up with all the episodes (I started recaps for this drama quite late into its airing). I’m definitely going to miss this drama for so many reasons and I’m already dreading to write the final recap for this drama (I just wanna cry T___T I don’t want it to end just yet). You can join me in my other recaps for ‘Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter’ as well as’ Dae Jang-geum is Watching.’
Matrimonial Chaos: Episode 16 & Final Recap
Hwi-roo accompanies Seok-moo to the train station and bids farewell with him as he finishes buying his train ticket. The two are sad to send their goodbye’s, but Hwi-roo remembers about the food that her mom had packed for Seok-moo. Hwi-roo had forgotten to give it to Seok-moo. She ends up buying the same ticket as Seok-moo so that she could meet him out on the train tracks. She hands him the food, but it’s not the food that Seok-moo accepts. Instead, he gives Hwi-roo a passionate kiss on the lips just as the train arrives.
Back at the house, Hwi-roo’s Mom updates the rest about Seok-moo and Hwi-roo. It turns out Hwi-roo won’t be returning to the house as she’s decided to leave with Seok-moo back to Seoul. Both set of parents worry that Seok-moo and Hwi-roo will just end up arguing on the train ride back home, but they’re also relieved with the news. Yoo-young returns to the house after talking with Jang-hyun outside. She finds her mother waiting for her at the door and jumps in fear.
It’s obvious to Mom that Yoo-young still cares for Jang-hyun despite what they’ve been through. Mom decides to accept Jang-hyun into the family and invites Jang-hyun to join them in visiting Dad at his grave the next day. Seok-moo and Hwi-roo make it safely back to Seoul. While waiting for a taxi, they chatter about old memories such as books and movies. Seok-moo also gives his jacket to cover Hwi-roo from the shivering winds. Though Seok-moo claims that he’s given Hwi-roo his jacket plenty of times before, Hwi-roo argues that it’s been a while since he’s given her a jacket that belonged to him.
The two reminisce the moment they stood out in the cold while waiting in line to try out a newly opened restaurant. It was then that Seok-moo gave up his jacket to keep Hwi-roo warm. That day also happened to be on Valentine’s Day. Back in the present, the two are reminded of other moments like the exercise ball that Hwi-roo brought to the house the day they moved in to the apartment together or the lyrics from Seok-moo’s song that he had recited to Hwi-roo once before when they first filed for their marriage.
And just like how they did three years ago when they finished registering their marriage, Hwi-roo and Seok-moo find themselves running together again three years later in the present. Of course, Hwi-roo outruns Seok-moo, but she waits for him to catch up to her. They eventually walk hand in hand across the stone bridge and to the guesthouse. It’s not until they arrive that they finally realize they’re where they first started. Seok-moo suggests they can grab some ramen noodles instead if Hwi-roo is hungry.
Yoo-young, Jang-hyun, and Mom pay a visit to Dad at his grave. Mom wishes for Dad to watch over Yoo-young to see just how much pain a woman goes through when she meets the wrong man. However, Jang-hyun claims that he will no longer hurt Yoo-young, but Yoo-young and Mom brush off his comment. Instead, Yoo-young comments that she’s going to make her own decisions now and do what it is that she wants. She’s going to live for herself.
After returning from the visit, Jang-hyun shows Yoo-young the baby crib he had been working on late into the night the past few weeks. Yoo-young assumes it must have been hard to create the crib, but Jang-hyun claims that it wasn’t. He was excited and happy to make such a product. Yoo-young finally shows Jang-hyun the sonogram of their baby, causing him to break into tears.
Seok-moo has a short reunion with his former boss. His boss asks for updates on what Seok-moo plans to do now that he’s left the company, but Seok-moo assumes he’ll only know the results once he attempts his dreams. As for Dong-koo, he’s busy proposing to Mi-ri, but she rejects his proposal. She wishes to remain single since everyone’s busy getting divorced. Everyone but Jang-hyun and Yoo-young that is. Jang-hyun shares with Seok-moo and Grandma his wedding plans and wishes. He wants Seok-moo to sing at his wedding and Grandma to officiate the marriage.
Seok-moo can’t seem to quite understand why Jang-hyun would want them both to play such a huge part at the wedding, especially when they’re both divorced. However, Jang-hyun doesn’t find any faults with the requests. He’s inviting many divorced people to attend his wedding. Haha, gotta love this guy! So what about Hwi-roo and Seok-moo? Are they getting back together? News spreads in the family that Hwi-roo and Seok-moo ate ramen noodles with each other when they returned to Seoul after the family trip.
But did they just simply have ramen noodles? Did anything else happen? Yoo-young interrogates Hwi-roo, but Hwi-roo shifts the focus back onto Yoo-young. Yoo-young’s finally have a wedding, she must feel somewhat happy. Yoo-young doesn’t think too much about it for now. What she’s more curious about is whether Hwi-roo will also be getting married again. Hwi-roo isn’t too certain though; she’s satisfied with how things are currently.
Hwi-roo and Seok-moo go on more dates with each other. They watch a movie together (and Hwi-roo actually isn’t late this time!) at the theater and also visit a bookstore afterwards where Seok-moo places a bunch of Hwi-roo’s books on the ‘Best Seller’ shelf. LOL. They’re too cute! Later on that night, Hwi-roo receives a phone call updating her about the international book fair in Italy that she had been invited to. The plans for the book fair has changed and the event will be taking place in two days.
Hwi-roo is excited for the book fair and relays the news to Seok-moo who’s also with her at her rooftop house. However, she faces a dilemma when she realizes that the book fair falls on the same day as Yoo-young and Jang-hyun’s wedding. Seok-moo feels as if he doesn’t have any right to tell Hwi-roo what to do since he’s no longer her husband anymore, but Hwi-roo argues that even if he was, he still wouldn’t have been able to decide for her. That’s what marriage is all about. Lol.
Jang-hyun and Yoo-young have some fun in their apartment. While dancing to some music, Jang-hyun opens up to Yoo-young about one of his biggest fears: a couple hating each other. He hopes to never have to deal with that with Yoo-young. Yoo-young then follows up with a question regarding their marriage registration. Why did Jang-hyun never file it the first time around? Jang-hyun beats around the bush by bringing up the story about his friend’s missing dog, but Yoo-young assumes it was because he was scared. Jang-hyun finally admits that he hated himself while Yoo-young hated herself which means they would have eventually hated each other and he didn’t want that. So how about now? How does he feel about himself now? Jang-hyun answers that he wishes to kiss Yoo-young and leans in to give her a kiss on the lips.
Seok-moo wakes up the next morning bright and early. Though he feels like he should sleep in, he’s unable to because he finds himself wanting to spend time with Hwi-roo. He eventually calls her and updates her on the request that Jang-hyun asked of him. They meet up minutes later to brainstorm about his performance for the wedding. The two have a good conversation with each other about marriage and love while contemplating what to write for Jang-hyun and Yoo-young. After discussing about the congratulatory message, Hwi-roo wishes to watch Seok-moo’s performance and see what he was prepared so far.
Seok-moo leaves to join Jang-hyun’s “bachelor party”.. except it’s just the two of them. Jang-hyun checks in on Seok-moo’s song that he has prepared for the wedding and anticipates the song which he assumes Seok-moo wrote while thinking about Hwi-roo. Seok-moo hints that it sounds like a break-up song, but Jang-hyun is fine with it as long as the couple in the song doesn’t curse at each other. LOL. Plus, not all break-up songs are bad or sad. At that moment, the two are joined by Yoo-young and Hwi-roo.
Since Hwi-roo will be unable to attend the wedding, they’ve made plans to hang out before the wedding. After some chattering, Jang-hyun questions whether Seok-moo and Hwi-roo will get back together, but they don’t have any plans of doing so yet. It seems like they’re comfortable being in a never-ending cycle with each other and plus, Hwi-roo still needs some time alone to think things through. They also encourage Seok-moo to express his feelings more often. He shouldn’t feel like masking them or hiding them all the time as that’s not good practice.
It’s finally the day of the wedding. Seok-moo and Hwi-roo call each other to wish the other luck. Seok-moo’s afraid that Hwi-roo will suddenly form feelings for Ki-wan since he’ll be accompanying her on the trip. She assumes he’s jealous, hehe. Hwi-roo also has a request for Seok-moo regarding his performance. Just then, Seok-moo is suddenly interrupted by a surprise visit from Jang-hyun.
While Yoo-young heads out to the salon, Jang-hyun stops by Seok-moo’s house to grab something. Since he grew up in New England, Jang-hyun wants to follow a custom and searches for a belonging from Hwi-roo that he can give to Yoo-young to “pass on happiness.” There’s not much in the apartment that belongs to Hwi-roo except for the pink exercise ball so Jang-hyun takes it to the wedding. They end up taking a motorbike to the wedding venue since there aren’t any taxis available. LOL.
Ma-roo greets Yoo-young in the bride’s room. Yoo-young asks about Hwi-roo and is curious if she’ll be attending the wedding. Jang-hyun and Seok-moo eventually make it to the wedding just in time. Seok-moo accidentally walks down the aisle with Jang-hyun, but seats himself in the front row before Yoo-young makes her appearance. Yoo-young also takes a walk down the aisle and stands next to Jang-hyun.
Grandma makes a short speech about marriage and all the wonders involved in it. She officiates Yoo-young and Jang-hyun’s marriage while Seok-moo follows with his performance. Though he’s nervous at first, he gains confidence after seeing Hwi-roo appear at the wedding (AHHHH!). Seok-moo successfully conquers his fears of performing in front of an audience thanks to Hwi-roo. The wedding is a fun and great time for everyone, especially the bride and groom themselves.
A few days later, Jang-hyun visits the same local restaurant that they all frequent and shares with the chef his thoughts about his daughter. He’s afraid that she’s going to encounter dangerous guys so he plans on coming up with ways to protect her. As for Yoo-young, she realizes that she’s no longer just living for herself, but feels inspired to also live for someone else now. What about Hwi-roo? At the same restaurant, she describes the trip to Italy that she embarked on with Seok-moo. Though she has considered marrying Seok-moo again, she also doesn’t see quite the point since marriage is only formalized by a piece of paper anyways. Seok-moo has returned from the trip with a new hairstyle, but his thoughts about marriage are still the same. Marriage is torture, lol.
A year passes and Yoo-young and Jang-hyun have given birth to a healthy baby daughter. The two couples decide to embark on a camping trip with the baby, but find themselves in a dilemma when the baby begins to cry. They make the final decision to postpone the camping trip for now and to take care of the baby first.
We also learn what our characters have been up to since the wedding. Ma-roo is now assigned to take care of the cafe since Grandma now works as a yoga instructor. Seok-moo’s been receiving success with his music career; he’s also now writing music for OST’s and hopes to be able to write songs for idols soon. Lol. While cooking some food for Hwi-roo, Seok-moo nags at her about her cleaning. The two get into another argument so she storms out of the house.
In a voice over with scenes of all our characters woven in and out of the episode, Hwi-roo states,
There are various people in the world. They live together. Some fit well together. Some compromise until they fit. And some embrace the other. They understand and embrace each other. At times, they still hate each other. Like that, they make themselves fit together. Once in a while, I’m sure they bounce off as well.
Seok-moo follows Hwi-roo out to the river. He apologizes to her for nagging at her and she also apologizes for complaining. Seok-moo figures that they’ll probably repeat this cycle of arguing and making up, but he’s okay with that. He still has fun with Hwi-roo and that’s all that matters to him. He also asks Hwi-roo if she would be willing to grow old with him.
When Hwi-roo has a hard time comprehending his question, he leans in and whispers into her ears. She smiles back at him in response and the two stand across each other in silence.
And that’s it folks! That’s a wraaaaap! I’m super curious as to what Seok-moo whispered into Hwi-roo’s ears though. It won’t kill me if I don’t know, but I’m hoping it was something along the lines of ‘I love you..’ or ‘you’re the love of my life!’ Lol, just kidding. I don’t think Seok-moo would be the type to say those type of romantic and cheesy words, but I’m just ultimately glad that our two main characters ended on good terms with each other.
I’m pretty satisfied with how the drama concluded everything for our characters. Yoo-young and Jang-hyun had their wedding and welcomed a happy and healthy daughter into their family. Grandma is now doing other things and taking a break from the cafe. Ma-roo and Soo-kyung are still as close to each other as they were years ago and are now taking care of the cafe for Grandma. Even our two set of parents are learning to love and compromise with each other as all couples do. I can’t complain about a happy ending where all our characters learned to face their struggles and work things out.
This drama has always centered around the premise of marriage – what is marriage and what does marriage involve? We often assume marriage is all rainbows and unicorns and that one must in love to be in a marriage. However, as witnessed from several of our couples in this drama, marriage is never all that easy or black and white. There are many things that occur behind the scenes in a marriage, and there are just as many factors that lead to a divorce. Yoo-young and Jang-hyun’s marriage with each other is an example of how you don’t need love to be married; Yoo-young will eventually fall in love with Jang-hyun again like how she did before, but she wasn’t all the way there by the time their wedding came around and that was okay. Yoo-young will find her way back to Jang-hyun just like how Hwi-roo and Seok-moo found their ways back to each other. I would also like to think that there are many marriages around the world that remain afloat for the sake of their children. I think this was also the case for Yoo-young and Jang-hyun who decided to remain together because they wanted their child to be raised under a two-parent household.
Divorce is a tricky topic to navigate and talk about in South Korea just because of the huge stigma surrounding it. Sometimes, I found myself questioning whether it was because of this stigma that everyone in the drama reacted so negatively to Seok-moo and Hwi-roo’s divorce. They didn’t want Seok-moo and Hwi-roo to be labeled as a divorced couple and to suffer from all the stigma that would come with that. However, I think more than anything, our set of parents were just genuinely puzzled and concerned at how their kids were divorced and how the divorce could possibly affect their families. I think that was the primary reason why Seok-moo and Hwi-roo’s parents didn’t approve of the divorce as first. It’s a good thing that they came around to accepting the divorce because they themselves aren’t exactly innocent either. They too have had thoughts and doubts about getting a divorce, but the only difference was that Seok-moo and Hwi-roo eventually went through with the divorce while our parents endured their marriages.
Before finishing this episode, I desperately wanted Seok-moo and Hwi-roo to get back together and to get married again. I didn’t want any other ending for the couple. I thought to myself that they HAD to get married again or else! But then as I was watching this episode and realizing that they probably weren’t going to get married again, I felt at peace just watching them remain the way they were. They were essentially a divorced couple starting over and learning about each other again step by step. Thinking about it, it wouldn’t be realistic to have Seok-moo and Hwi-roo suddenly get married again when they just filed for divorce a few months earlier. Their marriage lasted for three years while their divorce was only for a few months. The two learned many things about themselves and each other in those few months, but not enough for them to want to get married again. It’s going to take a while for Hwi-roo and Seok-moo to get married again if they choose to do so, but the marriage won’t come anytime soon and that’s okay. For now, they’re taking things slow and doing things over the right way this time. They’re not going to rush their relationship, they’re going to apologize for their behaviors and actions, they’re going to learn to appreciate the other person, they’re not going to take things for granted, and they’re going to love the other person the way that they want to be loved. I’m completely content that Seok-moo and Hwi-roo didn’t get married again by the end of the drama. They still have a long way to go, but they’re also content with where they are in their relationship. As Hwi-roo said, the only difference between them now and back then is that piece of paper that formalizes their marriage. However, that’s just a piece of paper. With or without that marriage registration document, Hwi-roo and Seok-moo can still be together and can even be better without it because they won’t feel any pressures of being defined by that piece of paper.
I think that was the primary pressure that both of our lead couples experienced with their marriages. They assumed that they were only married if they registered their marriage with the piece of paper and when Jang-hyun didn’t actually file the marriage, Yoo-young assumed that was the end of things for them. While their relationship had so much more going on and there was a reason why Jang-hyun didn’t file their marriage, our lead couples felt pressured by the boundaries and labels that were created from that piece of paper. You are only officially married if you turn in marriage registration, if you have a wedding, if you have kids, and much more. There are these societal standards and expectations of what marriage is supposed to look like, and both of our lead couples were pressured and desperate to fit into those standards without realizing that they were the exceptions. They never had a wedding and Jang-hyun and Yoo-young never even filed for marriage initially at first. Now, Hwi-roo knows that she and Seok-moo don’t need that marriage registration document if they wish to be together. They can still love each other, be with each other, care for each other, and do things that all married couples do without having to turn in their marriage registration. The only difference would be the piece of paper, but that’s simply it. Maybe it’s even better that Hwi-roo and Seok-moo don’t file for marriage so they don’t fall into societal pressures and expectations and so they don’t receive flack when things don’t go as well in their marriage.
Seok-moo and Hwi-roo also feels a sense of liberation and freedom from not being tied down to the marriage registration document which places them into a box. They both understand that they’re not in the best positions to even be considering marriage again, but they also like that they don’t have to be confined within those limits that marriage places them into. Our lead couple is aware that they will be in a never-ending cycle of arguing and making up because they’re not perfect and because they’re still in the process of learning about each other, but they’re okay with that. They’re satisfied with their current relationship and where they are and that’s more than enough for them. Hwi-roo and Seok-moo are in a much better position now than they were when they were “married” and that’s why they’re okay with not getting married again. Like I mentioned, I desperately wanted them to get back together again and to get married with an actual wedding this time, but just watching Hwi-roo and Seok-moo still spend time with each other and act as they did when they were married without the actual label this time made me feel otherwise. Another wedding wouldn’t hurt, but it’d only be fitting when Seok-moo and Hwi-roo themselves are fully prepared for that. Maybe they might never get married again in the future and rather choose to just engage in the relationship that they’re in as it is and that’s totally fine too. Maybe no marriage is better for the both of them.
I tend to form a short sense of (emotional) attachment to dramas that I find outstanding, powerful, and beautiful in many ways, and ‘Matrimonial Chaos’ will definitely be one of those dramas for me. I don’t know what it is, but this drama was so beautiful and powerful in many ways. I especially enjoy that our characters felt realistic and relatable; they weren’t your CEO’s of a huge conglomerate in Korea or they didn’t have the most prestigious backgrounds. No, they were just normal adults working and living while trying to make sense of what was going on in their lives. They didn’t have the best jobs, they didn’t have the most money in the world, they lived in a relatively average place in Seoul, and had to actually work to provide for themselves. How many of us can relate to Seok-moo who came from a pretty decent family and graduated from a prestigious university only to find himself working at a mediocre company just to provide for the marriage? How many of us have worked or know people who have worked several part-time jobs just like Hwi-roo so they can make some money? How many of us know or have been in relationships where there was some kind of cheating or affairs involved? I liked how our characters were down-to-earth and relatable. You could resonate with them when they were struggling or when they were crying or when they were stressed out about something. The drama never felt pretentious or never pretended to act like it was better than it really was. The drama never had any flashy moments, the drama was genuine and subtle from the start, the drama always had a goal set in mind to show us viewers the beauty and the pains of marriage, love, relationships, and family. That’s what made the drama so impactful even when it didn’t have a lot going on. In all honesty, there wasn’t much happening in the drama and we rather just followed our characters go about with their daily lives, but the drama made that entertaining. It made following our characters fun and interesting and relatable. That’s why this drama stands out to me. I can see glimpses of myself in the characters.
I especially have to give it to our cast members for being so talented and so amazing. Cha Tae-hyun was amazing in this (as he always is) and I think he did a good in portraying the often reserved, conflicted, and confused Seok-moo. He was a man who wanted to learn to better express himself after growing up with a dad who prohibited him from doing so; Seok-moo was the aspiring musician who used his songs as an outlet and form of expression to speak what was on his mind and in his heart. Cha Tae-hyun breathed the character to life and I enjoyed watching him (and as expected, Cha Tae-hyun’s comedic timing is always on-point!). But, I really have to give it to Bae Doo-na for the amazing interpretation and portrayal she had of Hwi-roo. Out of all the characters and actors in this drama, she was hands down the most amazing aspect of this drama for me. I don’t think I would have enjoyed this drama as much if it wasn’t for Bae Doo-na. I knew who she was prior to this drama, but I never really watched any of her projects. I’m glad that Bae Doo-na was casted in this drama though as the female lead because she seriously brought the character to life. Whether it was those moments where she was in tears over the divorce or whether she was contemplating whether to return to Seok-moo or not or when she was hurt upon discovering that Yoo-young and Seok-moo were seeing each other again, Bae Doo-na expressed every emotion and line in this drama with sincerity and flavor. She was the best part of the drama for me and she definitely played a big role in making this drama the drama that it was for me.
It makes me sad to have to bid farewell with this drama because I loved it so much and I don’t want it to end. I can watch Seok-moo and Hwi-roo spend time with each other forever and ever. I probably will never get tired of watching those two bicker and make up repeatedly, lol. Episodes 10-12 partially tainted the content and satisfaction that I had with the drama and severely disappointed me with the direction in storytelling that it took. I still remember watching those specific episodes and just thinking to myself like, “What happened to the amazing and heartfelt drama that I watched at the very beginning?!” Those three episodes felt so melodramatic
(a part of me has a conspiracy theory that the writer changed the tone of the drama a little bit to increase ratings but just ignore me) and different from what we saw episodes prior so I was a bit frustrated with how the drama handled certain things. However, episodes 13-16 made up for that dramatic shift and I went back to fully loving and appreciating this drama as I did when I first watched it. Something about this drama is definitely going to stick with me for a very long time and I’m already feeling this urge to re-watch the drama which is rare for me (I’m usually very picky about my dramas).
I’m going to miss ‘Matrimonial Chaos’ so so much and I’m sad that it didn’t receive the attention and support that it should have been given. I can understand why the drama might not be everyone’s cup of tea or why it didn’t receive as much success in Korea, but it is seriously such a hidden gem that many people are missing out on. There are so many great life lessons, messages, and themes hidden in between the conversations, lyrics, and books in this drama. While I agree that there might not have been much going on so some could have viewed the drama as boring and slow, this drama has never been dry or boring for me. I was captivated and intrigued the moment I watched the first few episodes and I can see now why top stars like Cha Tae-hyun and Bae Doo-na took on the project. A part of me even wants to see the two act together again in another project and I definitely still want to see more Seok-moo and Hwi-roo (yes, their time in this drama was not enough for me. I still want to see more!).
‘Matrimonial Chaos’ was not perfect by any means and had plenty of questionable and puzzling choices (aka episodes 10-12), but it was good enough for me to love it in ways that I have rarely ever felt before. While many others are going to probably forget that this drama ever existed and never learn to appreciate the beauty that it was, I’m going to sit here and re-watch the drama over and over again and appreciate new things about this drama that I might not have caught on the first time around. ‘Matrimonial Chaos’ was a beautiful slice of life drama that taught me many things about relationships, marriage, divorce, family, and love. I’m going to keep pieces of this amazing, wonderful, and beautiful drama around with me for a very long time.
Bonus: Extra screenshots from the last episode~