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Mary Stayed Out All Night 
매리는 외박중
(2010) KBS 16 Episodes
Romantic Comedy, Grade: B

 

Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

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Ah, Geun-suk Jang could charm the skin off a snake with just one smile and that irresistible twinkle in his eye. There's a reason so many Asians nickname him "The Prince Of Asia". He can do everything: write music, sing, play instruments, dance, act. He can play melodrama and romantic comedies with equal flair. Geun-young Moon, his co-star, can be equally serious but charming and funny at the same time, as she has proven in both films and dramas for years. It was a good idea to pair these two Geuns up for Mary Stayed Out All Night (2010), a romantic comedy with lots of edgy drama interwoven into the story. Although there were moments when I giggled like mad, I also shed a few tears, mainly due to the second male lead's performance, actor Jae-wook Kim (who played the ghost in Who Are You?); his eyes are so haunting as his character longs for the girl to love him back, and he's such a beautiful actor. I've really grown to appreciate him since first seeing him in Bad Guy. It's pretty standard stuff in the K-drama world for the second male lead to almost steal your heart away from the first male lead. Here it is almost a photo-finish tie, since his character is really far more stable than Geun-suk's is and he would make much better husband material for the girl than a struggling musician!

Geun-young Moon plays Maeri Wi, a scrappy college age girl who is always one step away from the bill collectors who are at her and her father
Dae-han's (Sang-myun Park) door constantly. She has to quit college because there is no money, so she takes odd jobs here and there. When we first meet Mary she is watching all their furniture being taken away to pay the bill collectors. Instead of being glum she looks on the bright side. "There's so much more space in here! We could play soccer in here!" she yells happily as she dances around the rooms. This tells you right away that Maeri is not a glum person, and she will not easily be defeated by life's troubles.



Would you fall in love with someone who hit you with their car?

While on a paid driving job on a snowy evening with her two friends in tow Maeri hits a man with a guitar named Mu-gyul Kang (Geun-suk), but when she rushes out to check on him he doesn't seem too badly injured. He brushes himself off and walks away but Maeri's friends worry her by saying that he might be the type of man who could sue her later, so she follows him to his music gig and then waits outside the stage door so she can talk to him. However there are hordes of screaming fan girls in the way so she has to keep pursuing him. Then she sees him entering a bar and sits down at the table with him and tries to get his signature on a piece of paper saying she won't be held liable for any injuries he sustained when hit by the car. Both of them quickly get drunk and end up falling asleep on the street together.

When Maeri wakes up the next morning with a hangover at her apartment she isn't prepared to see Mu-gyul exiting her bathroom! Although Maeri has no memory of even going to the apartment he tells her he carried her home because she was drunk, and he starts to crash at her apartment daily as a resting place due to his own lack of money. A bit of blackmail is not beneath him either; he knows she wants him to sign that paper relieving her of legal responsibility for hitting him so he puts off the signing which forces her to keep allowing him into the apartment. He jokingly calls Maeri "Merry Christmas", tells her she's cute, and he slowly starts to like her warm and comforting presence. Her friends are impressed with Mu-gyul too, as well as his fellow band members, and they all start hanging out together and getting to know one another and becoming friends.



Meanwhile, Maeri's Dad meets an old friend of his named Jung-suk Byun (Jun-gyu Park) who is a rich businessman and has a son in the entertainment field whom he would like to see married and settled down. The son, named Jung-in Byun (Jae-wook Kim), seems willing to oblige his father. The two fathers decide that Maeri might be a good match for the son, especially when Jung-suk sees a picture of Maeri and thinks she resembles someone he used to love in his past.



Maeri hates the idea of an arranged marriage so she and her friends and Mu-gyul's friends come up with the idea of staging a fake wedding and sending photos to Maeri's Dad to show him that someone already beat Jung-in to it. But the two fathers are having none of that and Jung-in comes up with the idea of a 100 day contract; let Maeri decide which man she wants after she splits time with both guys for that amount of time, and no matter which man she chooses the father's debts will be paid off. Maeri especially likes that last part so she agrees and ropes in Mu-gyul to agree. "As long as you don't start liking me," he warns her, upon which she claims he isn't her type so he will be perfectly safe. Ha! we've heard this before, haven't we?

 

Maeri officially meets Jung-in and he offers her a job as his secretary at the entertainment firm he founded which puts on Korean dramas; since Maeri has always loved to watch them she's more than happy to take the job.
Jung-in then meets  Mu-gyul and likes his music and offers him a job writing the score for the newest drama he plans called Wonderful Days, but the friction between them grows with time as both men fall in love with the warm and kind-hearted Maeri. There's also trouble ahead with regard to one of Mu-gyul's old girlfriends, Seo-joon (Hyo-jin Kim), who is an actress working in dramas at Jung-in's entertainment firm. She hasn't exactly forgotten Mu-gyul and she seems to want him back, causing difficulties for Maeri in the workplace. Mu-gyul's former agent Director Bang (Yi-young Shim who played the klutzy aunt in The Suspicious Housekeeper) tries to lure him away from Jung-in's firm, offering him a new lucrative contract.

 

It's always obvious that Maeri prefers Mu-gyul and at one point they even take off for a musical event together and he sings love songs to her. But working with and sharing time with Jung-in, who is so nice to her every day, makes Maeri care for him too. When the 100 days are up which man will Maeri choose? Will she follow her head or her heart?



Geun-suk Jang and Geun-young Moon have delightful chemistry in this drama. I did have trouble in the first episode with our Mary who acted 16 when her character was actually 24, however what most Americans do not understand about Korean dramas when they first get into them is that tremendous personal growth goes on during the typical 16 or 20 episodes of any K-drama, and you MUST be patient to see this growth. Never check out early in a K-drama but allow it to slowly grab you. The stars make this show, their sweetness grows episode by episode. I am glad I didn't stop at episode 1! I loved it!

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