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Lie After Lie: The Anatomy of a Makjang

The word “makjang” is a Korean slang term referencing over-the-top or exaggerated way of storytelling – often involving plots like murder, amnesia, adultery, false identities, and birth secrets. The infamous kimchi slap (or in Search: WWW – the seaweed slap) originated in a makjang, an effort to shock audiences and get them invested in all the drama. DAEBAK!

Weekday shows usually reference them for parodies because of their over-the-top nature, which is why these makjangs have started to evolve and elevate on another level, seen especially with the likes of this summer’s hit A World of Married Couple and now, Lie After Lie.

THE COMPLEX WEB OF LIES

A typical drama would most likely keep the premise simple and flesh out the story from there – a woman is wrongly accused by her mother in law (Lee Il-Hwa) of killing her husband, and seeks revenge for all her hardships. This show doesn’t end here. After giving birth in prison, Ji Eun-Su (Lee Yoo-Ri) loses her daughter – only to find her adopted by reporter and divorcee Kang Ji-Min (Yeong Jung-Hun). Now desperate and longing for her daughter, she hatches a plan to make Ji-Min fall in love with her to be her very own daughter’s stepmother.

Though this initial premise is very complicated, it’s not difficult to follow. And as the episodes progress, the fun is actually in the theories the audience can make while watching it. How will the mother find out about Eun-Su’s plans? What will she do about it when she does? How can Eun-Su manage to become close to her daughter? Will Eun-Su be able to build the family she’s been hoping for?

AN OLD FASHIONED VILLAIN VS A STRONG INDEPENDENT HEROINE

The classic mother-in-law – Ho-Ran is a chaebol, and therefore, powerful, high standing, and has a big influence. Eun-Su, on the other hand, starts off as the typical abused poor woman stereotype… but with a twist. She fights back against Ho-Ran in her own way! She looked for her daughter, even threatened people who got between them and found her daughter – now, Woo-Ju – all on her own. We’re actually excited about what she does next, and how she’s going to protect Woo-Ju and Ji-Min eventually against the mother-in-law’s clutches.

DID SHE OR DIDN’T SHE?

Before anything, there’s the murder mystery surrounding the death of Eun-Su’s husband. We’re only given a few glimpses of what actually happened – and given Eun-Su’s mental state, we’re not even sure if any of them are accurate. All we know is that Eun-Su was repeatedly and physically abused by the husband, and that she woke up with the murder weapon already in her hand. Was Eun-Su really the culprit? Or was there someone else involved that we still don’t know about?

FAKE LOVE TO REAL LOVE?

A lot of tension comes from the love story and is what gears the plot of the show forward. The levels of manipulation Eun-Su has to do, the little details she does to make sure that Ji-Min falls in love with her at times feel uncomfortable. The way she does it is very subtle too and she’s not forward in trying to pursue him, so to Ji-Min, it feels like a natural courtship. We can’t blame Eun-Su for going this route though. She can easily just claim Woo-Ju, say she’s the real birthmother, and move forward from there. But Woo-Ju doesn’t deserve to have an ex-convict as a mother either. In pursuing Ji-Min, she gets to solve this problem and still be able to raise Woo-Ju herself.

On the other side of the coin, we have Ji-Min. From his point of view, Eun Su checks all the boxes. Eun-Su is very charming. They had a connection and chemistry in the few times they met. Woo-Ju has taken a liking to Eun-Su as well and seems to be developing a motherly bond between them. To him, all this should speak in favor of Eun-Su as a suitable partner and mother to his precious little girl.

At this point in the story, we can’t help but feel bad for Ji-Min – he’s falling fast and hard for our girl Eun-Su! If he was an annoying bad person, we wouldn’t usually mind this type of manipulation. But he’s one of the kindest and most gentlemanly men in dramaland that we’re rooting for him! Eun-Su’s starting to show some bits and pieces of the truth, so we’re crossing our fingers. We want a well-deserved happy ending for the both of them, and Woo-Ju to finally have a complete and happy family!

A MUST-WATCH!

There’s still so many elements of the show that we haven’t tackled that we’re sure would take center stage later on – like Ji-Min’s ex-wife. As this new wave type of makjang is crossing our screens, we’re so excited about what shocking surprises the show still has in store. What are your favorite makjang dramas? What do you think of Lie After Lie so far? Let us know in the comments below!

Watch Episode 1 here!

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