Strangers Again - Korean Drama Review

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ENA (2023) 16 Episodes
Legal Melodrama, Divorce
Grade: B+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
(Some Spoilers)

Another excellent Korean cast joining together to make a melodrama penned by an unknown novice scriptwriter, Strangers Again (2023) was both fun to watch at times, intriguing to digest at other times, but also often predictable as well (even the title kind of gives the ending away!). I joked while watching it that the drama was titled incorrectly, that it should have been called Strangers Again And Again And Again because the two main romantic couples, all lawyers, could never fully tear themselves away from one another, even though sometimes they wanted to desperately after fights or divorce. Let's face it: the topic of divorce is a difficult one to process, in either dramas or real life. It takes a mature audience to fully comprehend a problematic drama like this one, its many emotional ups and downs. Even in Korea not a single episode of this drama hit 2% in the ratings. The cast must have been disappointed because they obviously worked very hard in making this story come alive in a vibrant way, as much as possible.

While watching this drama on divorce lawyers and their relationships I kept thinking back to a far superior drama about a divorced couple who couldn't fully tear themselves away from one another, the classic Ye Jin Son / Woo Sung Kam drama Alone In Love (2006). I kept wondering if the scriptwriter for Strangers Again had seen Alone In Love because so many plot points seemed to be lifted right out of the screenplay of the older drama; for instance, an ex-husband who for some bizarre reason tried to set up his ex-wife to date his best male friend! Now who in their right mind would do something like that? How could the ex-wife know for sure that the friend wouldn't go right back to her ex-husband and tell him everything that was happening between them? Shudder! That plot twist was seen in both dramas.

I made the decision to watch this drama till the end because of the true excellence of the two lead actors involved with the production, Kang Sora (Misaeng, Doctor Stranger, Warm and Cozy) and Jang Seung Jo (Encounter, Liar Game, Snowdrop) They had great chemistry together that helped to elevate the script to a higher level. Ironically, in real life, both actors are newly married to others and both have babies at home. I kept wondering if they came to the set and talked about their home lives: "What diapers are you using?" "What baby food are you feeding yours?" "Do you have a good pediatrician?" "Are you having trouble sleeping at night?" "Does your baby have colic too?" I wouldn't be surprised if the two of them had conversations like that on set in between takes. Too funny!


The Story:

Beautiful thirty-something Oh Ha Ra (Kang Sora) is a successful divorce lawyer working at a prestigious law firm in Seoul. She sees her life turned upside down when she is forced to work with her ex-husband, also a divorce lawyer, named Goo Eun Beom (Jang Seung Jo), since he's been re-hired by the CEO of the firm, Seo Han Gil (Jeon Bae Su) and his partner CEO Hong Yeo Rae (Gil Hae Yeon). The formerly married couple Ha Ra and Eun Beom had had a ten-year relationship / marriage but Ha Ra had suddenly been told by Eun Beom that he was in love with another woman and wanted a divorce (we find out later that that was a lie, which is revealed in a most dramatic way during a court case before a judge!).

Working together in the same firm again brings up past personal and legal issues that make the work climate difficult for all the other lawyers on staff, including Ha Ra's best friend Kang Bi Chwi (Jo Eun Ji, Personal Taste, Lost) and the fellow lawyer she has a crush on, Kwon Si Wook (Lee Jae Won, Master's Sun, Bridal Mask). This couple is going through their own conflicts, especially when Bi Chwi ends up pregnant out of wedlock. Si Wook is determined to become a good husband and father in the situation but Bi Chwi has cold feet about getting married, especially when she sees the rocky relationship Ha Ra has with Eun Beom. Plus she doesn't like the idea of giving up her job to stay home with an infant. Si Wook offers to become a house husband and to take care of the baby full time, but Bi Chwi doesn't quite like that idea either! It makes her feel guilty.

Working in an office specializing in divorce cases of all different kinds, Ha Ra and Eun Beom suddenly have countless new opportunities to talk in-depth about the common problems that arise in modern marriages, conversations which naturally create nostalgia for their own old relationship. To try and put distance between them Eun Beom introduces Ha Ra to his best male friend Min Jae Gyeom (Mu Jin Sung, who had an uncanny resemblance to Lee Jong Suk; they should put them in a drama together playing brothers!). That new relationship doesn't last long however; Ha Ra still has trouble forgetting Eun Beom. Meanwhile, her best friend Bi Chwi has finally come to terms with marrying Si Wook.

Once the male friend is out of the picture, the exes grow closer again, especially when Ha Ra learns Eun Beom never had an affair after all. Their strengthening relationship at work and after hours makes them realize that they still haven't overcome their deep romantic feelings for one another. However, there are still problems, especially with their relationships with extended family members who are nervous about them getting back together.

Then one night a big confession finally erupts from Eun Beom to Ha Ra, that the real reason he divorced her was because he didn't want children and she did. It turns out he was blamed by his mother for the death of a younger sister because he had not been watching over her properly when they were children; the little girl had run outside alone and been killed in an accident. The mental issues which resulted over this loss, and his mother's anger at him, had tortured him terribly. This was obviously a man who desperately needed mental therapy and he put off getting it for decades. Will Eun Beom's sense of guilt preclude a second marriage between himself and Ha Ra? 


Even though Strangers Again has a sad overall theme, the two main actors said in interviews that they decided to do the drama because it focused on a divorced couple who had entered another phase of life, where both had matured and might be able to succeed if they tried to marry a second time. "They say that even a couple who have lived together all their lives may not know each other very well,"  stated Kang Sora. Ha Ra and Eun Beom are able to delve deeper into their new intimate feelings for one another, but will those new romantic feelings make a second marriage successful in the long run when other stresses arise in their lives? For instance, Eun Beom still doesn't want children, but Ha Ra does. How can they deal with that problem? It seems insurmountable. That darn biological clock is ticking for Ha Ra. She will have to make a decision soon enough. And she does.

You can watch Strangers Again at Viki at this link. Enjoy the great acting and the roller coaster ride of the story. I should add that this is a more mature story and minors should probably not watch it. They have many teen boy idol dramas to watch instead. Korea is always making those but dramas about divorced people are few and far between! ;)