10 Contract Marriage K-Dramas You Don't Want To Miss

“For better or worse, until the contract do us part.” Maybe this is what the vows sound like when K-drama couples enter into contract marriages on screen. It’s a favorite drama trope that many cannot get enough of. The alliances are often motivated by desires to escape family pressures and inheritance issues but sometimes also to exact revenge and settle scores. But fate works in strange ways when the couples feel they want to be bound to each other for life. Here’s a look at 10 such contract marriage K-dramas, where protagonists have had their own agendas and reasons to enter into these partnerships, but also entertain us with their schemes.

Perfect Marriage Revenge

The title itself is a giveaway on where this one is heading. Han Yi Joo (Jung Yoo Min) is a submissive people-pleaser who is easily manipulated by her family, her husband, and in-laws. Yi Joo feels indebted to her family who had adopted her when she was a child. Weighed under the debt of their so-called generosity, she smiles through the abuse and disrespect meted out to her. However, things come ahead when she realizes that not only has her husband betrayed her, but her scheming adoptive mother and sister have been forever playing and using her. A twist in fate leads Yi Joo to right the wrongs in her life. She approaches Seo Do Guk (Sung Hoon), the aloof heir to a vast fortune, to marry her. Incidentally, he is also the man her sister has her sights set on. Do Guk gladly complies, but does Yi Joo have it in her to go through it?

“Perfect Marriage Revenge” immerses you with its taut storytelling. In Yi Joo’s family, you see how humans driven by greed can fall to the deepest of lows. And while Do Guk has his burdens, he is the shield Yi Joo craves to protect herself. Sung Hoon and Jung Yoo Min also make an arresting couple, enough to make you wish this was for real and not revenge.

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1% of Something

“1% of Anything” in 2003 was perhaps one of the earliest K-dramas which brought in the “contract marriage” trope, little realizing it would become a huge draw. Kim Da Hyun (Kim Jung Hwa) is a simple and compassionate school teacher. One day she saves an elderly man, not realizing that he is a multimillionaire and owner of one of the largest conglomerates in the country. He remembers her selfless deed and bequeaths his inheritance to her in his will. And he writes off his arrogant grandson Lee Jae In (Kang Dong Won). Jae In, who needs to pacify his grandfather and safeguard his inheritance, decides to enter into a contract marriage with Da Hyun.

This drama is a golden oldie which has all the cliches and the innocence and naivety of its time. In 2016 it had a remake called “1% of Something” starring Ha Seok Jin and Jeon So Min, who played two divergent personalities who cannot bear the sight of each other, surmounting obstacles and falling in love. “1% of Something” gives you all that you need in a rom-com with amazing chemistry between Ha Seok Jin and Jeon So Min, who also serve some of the best K-drama kisses of all time.

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Love in Contract

Choi Sang Eun (Park Min Young) holds the record for a dozen divorces. For a woman who ran away from getting married herself, she seems to be reveling in walking down the aisle. But she has her reasons. She is a single life helper and has helped many of her clients sort their many issues by posing as their interim wife. And while Sang Eun wants to retire, she needs to fulfill her last contract with a socially awkward judge named Jung Ji Ho (Go Kyung Pyo), who has been her most reliable client for five years. There’s also the idol star Kang Hae Jin (Kim Jae Young), who wants her to step in as his wife to sort his reputation. Though she is caught in a love triangle, what the men don’t realize is that Sang Eun has a past she is running away from, one that has made her the person she is.

“Love in Contract” is an easy watch. It will make you envy Sang Eun’s luck since she has the most supportive man in her life. Ji Ho, Hae Jin, and even her close friend Gwang Nam (Kang Hyung Suk) are some of her many former husbands. Plus Park Min Young also notches the fashion quotient with her straight cuts and stylish silhouettes.

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The Story of Park’s Marriage Contract

Park Yeon Woo (Lee Se Young) is a strong-willed young woman who is leading a privileged life in the Joseon era. But her world falls apart when her husband on their wedding night confesses he has a heart condition and soon passes away. Even before she can reconcile with her fate, Yeon Woo finds herself crash-landing into present-day Seoul, where she meets Kang Tae Ha (Bae In Hyuk), an aloof and cold chaebol who saves Yeon Woo. In her he finds the perfect bait to comply with his grandfather’s wish to marry him off and secure his inheritance. He asks this rather crazy lady with her quirky behavior to get into a contract alliance with him. The twist is that he suffers from the same heart condition as Yeon Woo’s dead husband. Will her Confucian beliefs adhere to this bizarre scheme?

A currently airing drama, this time-slip romance is a fun ride, and both leads are much in sync with the other and will keep you engrossed.

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“Sweet 18”

Yet to be born children already betrothed in marriage by their families? No, we are not in the dark ages, it is just two families in the hopes of keeping their relations tight who decide upon this grand scheme. However, the issue is that Yoon Jung Sook (Han Ji Hye) is an 18-year-old high schooler, who has her life ahead to plan. Kwon Hyuk Joon (Lee Dong Gun) is 10 years older and is focused on his career. It doesn’t help that they are in very different stages in life and have very contrasting ideologies. They decide on a contract marriage and to keep their lives as separate as possible. But what they had not anticipated was the heart-fluttering feelings which would soon erupt and engulf them.

And older K-drama, these two leads have a natural and convincing chemistry, so it is pretty adorable to watch the story unfolding on screen.

“Remarriage and Desires”

Seo Hye Seung (Kim Hee Sun) has it all, a perfect home and marriage, until she realizes her husband Kang Nam Sik has been cheating on her with Jin Yoo Hee (Jung Yoo Jin), who is a lawyer. But Nam Sik is a cad of sorts – he not only cheated on his wife but has also used his mistress for money laundering, who calls him out. He ends his life. Hye Seung, who is working as a school teacher and raising her daughter, gets signed up by her mother for an exclusive match-making services at Rex. Choi Yoo Sun (Cha Ji Yeo) is a popular marriage maker, who believes marriages are nothing but business arrangements. Yoo Hee is also at Rex to match with their topmost clientele and has set her sights on Lee Hyung Joo (Lee Hyun Wook). Hyung Joo is a handsome young boss of a successful video game company. Fireworks are entailed when Hye Seung meets her arch-nemesis Yoo Hee, and she devises a plan to get her revenge on the woman who has upended her life.

“Remarriage and Desires” is one hell of a ride, as the characters leave no stone unturned in their games of seduction and intrigue. Kim Hee Sun and Jung Yoo Jin have amazing on-screen chemistry, and it’s fun to see them one-up the other in their dangerous games.

“Sassy Girl, Chun Hyang”

When two students, Chun Hyang (Han Chae Young) and Mong Ryong (Jae Hee), are found sleeping in the same room by sheer accident, the school threatens to expel them. But their parents, to evade the crisis and guard their family’s honor, announce that the two are betrothed. And Chun Hyang and Mong Ryong end up marrying each other. While the two incessantly bicker, they also develop an affinity for the other. Does this marriage turn into a forever contract? You’ll have to watch to find out!

 A classic old K-drama written by the Hong sisters, this is a cute romance which is meant to be enjoyed and savored.

Because This Is My First Life

Nam Sae Hee (Lee Min Ki) is a socially awkward computer designer, whose mundane daily existence is so routine that it is as if he lives on autopilot. But he has a heavy mortgage to pay off. Yoon Ji Ho (Jung So Min) is an aspiring drama writer, who is homeless. The two meet and decide to get into a contract marriage. It works best for them, since Sae Hee’s parents can stop pestering him to go on blind dates and Ji Ho can look for a job and have a place to live. Though they strike a friendship, they are both aware not to cross their boundaries, with Sae Hee having a past that he has kept locked away.

This drama scores on its slow burn yet evocative storytelling. As Nam Sae Hee transforms from a robotic machine to a guy who is helplessly lovestruck, it is pretty romantic to watch.

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“The Accidental Couple”

Han Ji Soo (Kim Ah Joong) is a famous actress, and her secret lover is none other than the son of a famous politician. The two get into a car accident, and in a bid to cover up the scandal, Ji Soo lets her boyfriend escape and drags an innocent bystander on the scene. Goo Dong Baek (Hwang Jung Min) is a post office employee who suddenly finds his face in every newspaper and tabloid as Ji Soo’s secret lover. He, being a fan of her, agrees to get into a six-month contract marriage with her. But will Ji Soo realize this fan could very well be her man for life?

“The Accidental Couple” is a no-fuss watch. Hwang Jung Min endears with his simplicity, and the show will make you laugh and cry. After all, that’s what good love stories are meant to do.

Fated to Love You

Kim Mi Young (Jang Nara) is a simple and timid young woman who tends to gets pushed around a lot. Lee Gun (Jang Hyuk), on the other hand, is a self-obsessed heir to a fortune. He is waiting to propose to his girlfriend, but accidentally has a one-night stand with Mi Young. When she becomes pregnant with their child, the only option is a shotgun wedding. They decide on a contract, leading very different lives from each other. Soon tragedy strikes, the arrangement is dissolved, and they go their separate ways. But the time spent together has led to a certain fondness between the two. Years pass, and Mi Young returns as a self-assured famous artist, while Lee Gun is the shadow of the man he was before. When the two meet again, there is attraction as well as regret. Can they come together?

This is an all-time favorite amongst fans. It’s a true blue melodrama, which has everything: laughs, tears, love, and hate. Plus Jang Nara and Jang Hyuk make a compatible pair.

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Hey Soompiers, which one of these dramas is your favorite contract couple? Let us know in the comments below!

Puja Talwar is a Soompi writer with a strong Yang Yang and Lee Junho bias. A long time K-drama fan, she loves devising alternate scenarios to the narratives. She has interviewed Lee Min HoGong YooCha Eun Woo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.

Currently watching: Perfect Marriage Revenge

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