Good Ol’ Review: MBC’s “The Forbidden Marriage” a Fun, Exciting and Satisfying Series

The Forbidden Marriage Review

No spoilers.

MBC’s The Forbidden Marriage (금혼령, 조선 혼인 금지령/Geumhonryung, Joseon’s Ban on Marriage) is such a wonderful treat of a series. The lighthearted historical romcom has just enough touches of mystery, intrigue and action to pair with the excellent cast to result in what is one of the most fun K-drama experiences I’ve had in a while.

Kim Young Dae is King Lee Heon of a fictional version of Joseon on a fictional version of Earth. He has mourned the loss of his wife for seven years and since ascending to the throne, has not been able to find a queen. Because of this, a marriage ban has been instituted in the kingdom until Lee Heon can find a ne bride.

Ye So Rang (Park Ju Hyun) is a swindler who claims to be a spiritual matchmaker. She finds herself in the king’s presence purporting to be able to channel the spirit of the king’s late wife which she says continues to lurk around the palace. The king has So Rang stay at the palace and work as a court lady in order for her to continue to be a bridge between him and his late wife. That is partly to find out the real reason for her death as well as help her soul finally find peace.

It becomes one lie after another for So Rang as she must navigate the ins and outs of serving the king while maintaining her cover. But she must also hide her true background from Investigations officer Lee Shin Won (Kim Woo Seok), the king’s best friend and someone who might actually know So Rang from the past.

The Forbidden Marriage Review

The Forbidden Marriage offers many familiar K-drama themes in a refreshingly unique setting and circumstances. The fictional Joseon and Earth allows for a lot of creative freedom without needing to be tied to actual historical Korea. That in turn allows the series to be as light and fun as possible.

There is a familiar rich boy, poor girl dynamic along with the idea of having to keep up a ruse that originally starts out as something small before it balloons to something bigger and bigger. That set-up is of course ripe for fun shenanigans and charming moments. There is no lack of sweet romance alongside genuine friendships that are formed amongst the ensemble cast of characters.

The series does not take itself too seriously and the cast follows suit with the correct tone in their performances. Both the cast and the story are able to turn on the appropriate tone when things get more serious or require some high flying action. The mystery behind the death of the king’s wife as well as the usual palace intrigue with trying to usurp the king from the throne give the story a welcome dose of tension and danger.

The Forbidden Marriage is able to balance both the lighter and heavier sides to its story very well with the cast able to keep up with what is required of them. There is no loss of intrigue or excitement across the series’ 12 episodes. And that continued engagement really helps to make the series a fulfilling and satisfying experience.

What is most interesting is how the series is able to deftly discuss the idea of being able to love freely and live life to the fullest. That undercurrent is present throughout the series and adds even more to the climax in the final episodes. This theme also helps to build this fictional world which in turn serves as the perfect backdrop for the series’ main stories. It gives the main characters the needed depth to be able to connect with and continually engage the audience.

The cast more than does their part as well. Kim Young Dae, Park Ju Hyun and a well-deserved big role for Kim Woo Seok lead a strong ensemble cast.

Kim Young Dae of course did some great work on Cheat On Me If You Can and had his breakout performance on Penthouse. But his comedic chops on Shooting Stars and now The Forbidden Marriage are quite charming. His versatility really adds a lot to his charisma and he is able to really solidify his leading man potential.

Park Ju Hyun’s colorful charm also shines through as So Rang. She has made the most of some excellent opportunities in the short time she has been acting. And it is very much evident here. Being able to be a confident and fierce young woman while also allowing the vulnerability and emotion to still shine through is quite a skill. And Park Ju Hyun is always able to showcase that with every performance.

The Forbidden Marriage Review

Kim Woo Seok has had many great supporting performances. But he really gets a big opportunity here as Shin Won and he more than proves that he deserves bigger and more marquee roles moving forward. He’s of course proved that already before. But his performance here including some aspects of the familiar 2nd lead-type of character definitely showcases he is more than ready to take on the main lead role. His charm and charisma are right on par with his fellow leads.

And the three of them together share an excellent chemistry that elevates the series as a while.

Special mention is deserved for Hwang Jung Min as Court Lady Won Nyeo and Lee Hyun Geol as eunuch Se Jang. Their endearing performances lead a wonderful supporting cast that, again, really helps to fill this vibrant world and in turn supports the well-written and engaging story.

The Forbidden Marriage Review

Overall, The Forbidden Marriage is a wonderful treat. Definitely a pleasant surprise to start this year off with in K-drama. Romantic and fun, dramatic and exciting; it is able to balance all these different themes and emotions. And an excellent cast helps to solidify the series into one legitimately worthy and satisfying viewing experience.

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