5 things you need to know about ‘The World of the Married’—the most popular Korean drama right now

The World of the Married, also known as Couple’s World, is undoubtedly the most popular Korean drama right now based on TV ratings and buzz scores. It’s even more popular than the star-studded Hospital Playlist and Kim Tae-hee’s comeback project Hi Bye, Mama!. Fans are enthusing about the series and could not help but praise its story and the performances of the actors. If you’re wondering about the buzz surrounding it, the following facts will help you understand the sensational reception of the show. (This is a spoiler-free article.)

Still from The World of the Married
Still image from The World of the Married featuring Kim Hee-ae, the lead actress of the series.

1. The atypical love affair story of ‘The World of the Married’ does not beat around the bush

The World of the Married centers on a successful doctor (Kim Hee-ae) who thinks she has it all until she finds out that her husband (Park Hae-joon) is having an affair. Based on this synopsis, The World seems like just another love affair drama. But it’s NOT.

The series does not drag on with a clichéd story and fully reveals the affair in the first episode. TV drama critic Yun Suk-jin said, “The fact that the cheating is revealed in the first episode shows that cheating itself is not what the story will expand on, but is only the motif of the story, which focuses on the main character and her surrounding relationships.”

Kim Hee-ae and Park Hae-joon in The World of the Married
Scenes from The World of the Married featuring lead actors Kim Hee-ae (top left, botom) and Park Hae-joon.

The World of the Married is not really about showing the intimate moments of the secret affair and how the victims suffer because of it. Rather, it aims to highlight the whirlwind of emotions the protagonist has to go through to protect what she has and punish those who wronged her at the same time. From episode 2 onward, the series has become a psychological thriller with a fast-paced plot.

2. ‘The World of the Married’ is based on the UK TV series ‘Doctor Foster’

Doctor Foster promotional poster
Promotional poster for Doctor Foster featuring Suranne Jones and Bertie Carvel.

The World of the Married is a Korean remake of the British series Doctor Foster—which aired on BBC One in 2015 and 2017—starring Suranne Jones and Bertie Carvel. The original show generally received acclaim and got nominated for Best Mini-series at the 2016 British Academy Television Awards, in which Surrane Jones won Best Actress.

There were only 10 episodes between the first and second series of Doctor Foster, so the 16-episode Korean adaptation is likely to veer off the original storyline in the second half of its run.

3. 52-year old Kim Hee-ae is a woman on a revenge mission

Kim Hee-ae will celebrate her 53rd birthday on April 23 and she is poised to receive a very special gift when The World of the Married climb past the 20 percent mark in TV ratings. She plays Doctor Ji Sun-woo in the series, who at first appears composed in her approach to her husband’s affair but must resort to unthinkable acts to protect what’s important to her.

Secret Affair Korean drama poster
Promotional poster for Secret Affair featuring Kim Hee-ae (left) and Yoo Ah-in.

Kim Hee-ae is a veteran actress in the Korean entertainment industry, and she’s likely to score a massive success in her 35-year career when The World ends up beating the TV rating records of SKY Castle and Crash Landing on You. Her most recent dramas include Second To Last Love (2016), Mrs. Cop (2015), and Secret Affair (2014).

Meanwhile, Park Hae-joon plays Lee Tae-oh, Sun-woo’s husband and a movie director who needs financing for his projects. 43-year-old Park is a relatively young actor compared to Kim, having started his acting career in 2012. He recently appeared in Arthdal Chronicles (2019) and My Mister (2018), and you probably remember him in Misaeng: Incomplete Life (2014).

4. ‘The World of the Married’ is helmed by the PD of the award-winning drama ‘Misty’

Director Mo Wan-il is at the helm of The World of the Married, and he’s popularly known as the PD of the award-winning 2018 JTBC drama Misty starring Kim Nam-joo and Ji Jin-hee. Misty earned three nominations from the prestigious Baeksang Arts Awards, including Best Director for PD Mo, and took home the best actress prize for Kim Nam-joo.

Misty Poster 1
Promotional poster for Misty, an award-winning JTBC drama that was directed by the PD of The World of the Married.

PD Mo Wan-il also directed the 2016 medical series Beautiful Mind starring Jang Hyuk and Parasite actress Park So-dam. The drama received praise for its story and performances but got shortened from 16 to 14 episodes due to low ratings.

5. ‘The World of the Married’ is on track to become the highest-rated cable drama of all time

As of April 13, 2020, The World of the Married holds the title as the third highest-rated Korean drama in cable TV of all time. In terms of average ratings, it is third only to Mr. Sunshine and Goblin. In terms of peak ratings, it is trailing behind SKY Castle and Crash Landing on You (see the top 10 below). But that’s only considering the first six episodes of the drama.

  1. SKY Castle (JTBC) – 23.779%
  2. Crash Landing On You (tvN) – 21.683%
  3. The World of the Married (JTBC) – 18.816% (based on first six episodes)
  4. Reply 1988 (tvN) – 18.803%
  5. Goblin (tvN) – 18.680%
  6. Mr. Sunshine (tvN) – 18.129%
  7. Itaewon Class (JTBC) – 16.548%
  8. 100 Days My Prince (tvN) – 14.412%
  9. Signal (tvN) – 12.544%

With 10 more episodes to go before its finale, it is only a matter of time before The World becomes the highest-rated Korean cable drama of all time. And when that happens, The World will join the ranks of South Korea’s few smash-hit series that were adapted from a foreign original. It will also become a rare megahit recreated from a Western original series.

The World of the Married airs on JTBC every Friday and Saturday at 10:50 p.m. KST. It has yet to secure a distributor in the U.S.

The World of the Married Poster 2
The World of the Married promotional poster featuring Kim Hee-ae.

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InternJang manages a team of writers to publish and promote content for Kdramapal every day. He began watching Korean dramas in 2014 and fell in love deeply with his all-time favorites Signal, Reply 1988, and Misaeng. His affinity for writing led him to start a blog and, later on, spearhead efforts to establish KDP as one of the most dependable sources of K-drama information online.