The Effortlessly Elegant Wife, Jung Eun-chae
The drama ‘Return’ tells the story of a twisted murder of the rich, with scandals and deceit wrapping it all in a neat little bow. The drama gives the viewers some insight into just how cunning and deceitful the 1% could be, as they navigate the relationships between a lawyer and his social circle. The drama aired between January and March of 2018, gaining a fair amount of traction for its makjang-inspired plot, which is highly dramatic, full of twists, and just pure unadulterated drama. As we get to know all the characters there seems to be one that stands out against the lies that surround all them, and that is Jung Eun-chae’s character, Geum Na-ra.
One of the core relationships highlighted in the story revolves around Geum Na-ra’s relationship with her husband, Kang In-ho, who is having an affair with a past flame and puts their reputation on the line. So what happens between the two? Will they reconcile their marriage? Let’s check out Jung Eun-chae’s acting in Return!
About the Korean Drama Return
Return tells the story of lawyer Choi Ja-hye and detective Dokgo Young as they investigate the murder cases which involve the children of the elite class as the prime suspects. It all started when a body was found on the freeway, and the four suspects are among South Korea’s powerful elite. Choi Ja-hye, the most influential and famous female lawyer in the country, decides to take the case and defend Kang In-ho, per the request of her law school friend Geum Na-ra, played by Jung Eun-chae.
However, In-ho was having an affair with the victim and was seen having an argument with her the day before the murder took place. As Ja-hye investigates the case with Dokgo Young, a detective with a dark past as a juvenile criminal, they realize that the case is not a simple murder but was born out of corruption and dark secrets among In-ho and his friends.
Return presents a show that gives an insight to the alluring world of the elite class while still reminding all of us that everything has a dark side to it, such as the murder case that became a nationwide scandal. There are also scandals that will inevitably leave pieces for people like Detective Dok Goo and lawyer Ja Hye to pick up, and the tangled relationships between the characters definitely add to that. Jung Eun-chae’s character, Geum Na-ra, however, stands out as someone who can be both considered the victim and the facilitator of all the happenings between the elite’s social circle.
This exciting and dramatic plot earned the No.1 spot in Nielsen Korea’s ranking of the highest viewers rating for a drama in 2018. The reactions are quite mixed, though, as they managed to beat the iconic drama, Mr. Sunshine, for the top spot, putting into question the legitimacy of the ranking. Despite that, it proves that the drama was very successful, possibly with a very different demographic as it does deal with several adult themes and makjang elements.
Jung Eun-chae in Return
Jung Eun-chae’s character, Geum Na-ra, is the wife of Kang In-ho, played by Park Ki-woong, who gave up her dream to marry into the family of Taeha Group. This made her basically royalty, as Taeha group is a business empire that has never ranked outside of the top 20 businesses. She passed the bar exam right before graduating from college, alongside Choi Ja-hye, but gave up her dreams of becoming a lawyer in order to become a good mother after getting married.
She lived a content and wholesome life after marriage, but began to actively participate in the investigation of the murder case involving her husband’s mistress Yeom Mi-jung, which is being investigated by her old friend, Choi Ja-hye. The mistress is something she has only figured out recently in her marriage, making her upset and motivating her to go back into the world she gave up for her marriage. Geum Na-ra shows off her feminine and elegant fashion style that is perfectly suited for the image of a daughter-in-law of the head of a successful conglomerate.
Geum Na-ra’s beautiful elegance and sweet personality is sure to make her a fan favorite, as she has basically devoted her whole life to being Kang In-ho’s wife, who is also in charge of the powerful Tae Ha Corporation, but was betrayed cold-heartedly. Geum Na-ra is the most out-of-the-loop when it comes to the dirty doings of those in the upper crust, having given up a promising career in law to be a stay-at-home mother to her two-year-old daughter. Her husband is quite firm that she maintain this position, which might have something to do with the off-and-on affair he’s trying to hide, and keeping her from investigating his mistress is one of his top priorities.
In regards to her old friend, Choi Ja-hye, she and Geum Na-ra were initially rivals who battled for first and second place in their class at the Judicial Research and Training Institute. Even so, they have gotten close ever since they worked on the murder case involving Geum Na-ra’s husband. The two are now working together to uncover the truth about the case, using the intellectual skills they honed in university. Choi Ja-hye also meets with Geum Na-ra in secret to discuss the details of the case and this raises questions about where they’re headed and what they talked about.
A source from the drama talked a little bit about Jung Eun-chae’s Geum Na-ra, stating, “Every time her facial expression changes, she portrays a new image. We have high expectations for the lawyer who became the daughter-in-law of a conglomerate head. Please look forward to her transformation and efforts to portray detailed acting.”
Jung Eun-chae’s Chemistry with Park Ki-woong in Return
In the drama Return, Jung Eun-chae’s character, Geum Na-ra, has her whole plot revolve around her husband and his crimes. Not only that, she needs to be able to portray both sides to a relationship, the sweet and sickly as well as the darker side of things, when she starts figuring out the deception and lies her husband has created. In that sense, the two need a very strong chemistry for this plot to work and it is definitely visible in the scenes on-screen and events off-screen.
The couple’s on-screen dynamics are somewhat complicated, as have been explained above, with their initially sweet marriage full of deceit in the front half of the drama, to the darker, more menacing tones towards the end. Their relationship definitely revolves around Kang In-ho’s demands of the perfect ideal wife, while Geum Na-ra has a sense of individuality that seems to go against these demands. Despite it, she obeys those demands and delves into the world of the rich for the man she thought she loved.
The pictures above are taken from behind the scenes of Jung Eun-chae, Park Ki-woong, and the child actress playing her daughter. They were taking family pictures for the purpose of the drama. Not only that, the couple also took wedding pictures too, for display as props in the scenes shot at the characters’ private estate. As you can see, their chemistry is simply undeniable, as they reenact how the couple would’ve before Geum Na-ra figured out the dirty little secret Kang In-ho keeps close to his heart. These pictures are a great representation of their relationship before the drama takes place.
The chemistry that the two possess seems to have bled out into their off-screen moments, such as the one above, taken during Return press conference before the drama officially airs. The two greeted reporters with big smiles on their faces, arms linked, as they pose as a couple, as they did for their characters on-screen. Furthermore, the two were spotted whispering to one another while their costars were answering questions thrown by the reporters, talking about the drama’s goings-on and how their characters will be in upcoming episodes. This just shows how close their relationship is both on and off-screen.