Thursday, 26 December 2013

You Are Beautiful (2009) - ★★★★

Director: Seong-Chang Hong
Writers: Jeong-eun Hong
Stars: Shin-Hye Park, Jang Keun Suk, Yong-hwa Jung, Hong-ki Lee, Ran Choi, Yu-jin Kim

One thing I love about Korean dramas is how airy-fairy, lovey-dovey they are. The cheesiness of it all just makes my heart sing with glee, and for the most part, 'You’re Beautiful' had that effect on me. It follows the same formula, with characters and dialogue that appear to have been taken straight out of a manga series. It’s just so whimsical. There’s an infectious charm to it that just made me laugh, writhe with elation, and cower from all the corniness. I enjoyed watching this show immensely, however, there were many things that I just couldn’t stand about it. It didn’t sweep me off my feet the way it should have, which is why I must disagree with those that call it the greatest K-Drama of all time. However, it's still one of the most wonderfully entertaining shows I've ever seen.

A young aspiring nun named Go Mi-Nyu (Shin-Hye Park) gets caught up in the crazy world of beautiful K-Pop stars. This is because her twin brother, Go Mi-Nam, has been accepted into the highly popular band called 'A.N.Jell'. The problem is, Mi-Nam is in the US getting surgery done, which means he could miss his opportunity of becoming a pop-star. That's where Mi-Nyu comes in. She must pretend to be her brother and join the band to keep her brother's dream alive. Her crazy cross-dressing shenanigan's cause chaos within the band, with each of the A.N.Jell band-members developing feelings towards "Go Mi-Nam." It is a tale filled with comic-genius, and sweet romanticism. 

For a long while, I hated the leading love interest Hwang Tae-Kyung (Jang Keun Suk). He was an absolutely despicable man, much like Heathcliffe from Wuthering Heights (if Heathcliffe was a full-blown metrosexual). There was one scene that made me come to the conclusion that he was a complete and utter dick. Go Mi Nam begs him to let her stay in the group, and promises that she will never do anything to bother him again. She then gives him the most precious thing in her possession, which is a ring her mother left her. You know what he did? He pretended to throw that ring into the far-off distance, but secretly kept it in his hand to fool Go Mi Nam. We’re told a song and dance about how his mother abandoned him, and how it drastically affected his trust and love issues. We’re supposed to swallow the notion that he believed crushing her dream of finding her mother was the best thing for Go Mi Nam. The way I see it is that by pretending to throw the ring, he inflicted the ultimate pain and insult to her. What’s worse is that he literally left her to look for the ring all through the night, knowing full-well that she wouldn’t find it. Any good-natured… no, any human being with an ounce of decency would know that losing an item that important can scar a person for life. For him to just inflict that kind of pain on her, leave her there to wallow through the night, and not show an ounce of remorse or pity towards her for a long while, is sufficient enough to make me hate him. From that moment, he was dead to me. They tried to develop his character to justify the WHY, but in all honesty, the why is too weak to ever forgive an action that despicable.  

So after Go Mi Nam searches all through the night, knee deep in water with no hope of finding the ring, he shows up. She must have been searching for over ten hours…, which is crazy. So the very next morning, he tells her that she doesn’t have to look any more, and then holds up the ring and reveals he had it all along. You know what I would have done? I’d have punched him in the face for making me go through one of the worst nights of my life. You know what she did? She hugged him and proclaimed, “Thank-you Hwang Tae Kyung!” She was so grateful to him… it was sickening. As soon as she did that, it practically destroyed all the love I had for her character. She doesn’t stand up for herself, which shows a total lack of self-respect. She rolls over and lets others walk all over her, making her the kind of person I just can’t respect myself. Three episodes into the show, and I already found it hard to love the two leads.

The show got off to a rough start with me, but it definitely won me over in the end!
As you can see, the hurtfulness of Hwang Tae-Kyeong and the subservient nature of Go Mi-Nam were far from a joy to watch. However, things do get better. The whimsical comedy and romance of it all comes back slowly, which subsequently made me extremely invested again.

Nearly every complication captured in one photo, minus the reporter. 
One thing that I don’t like about Korean dramas is the way silly complications are injected into every episode. It was no different in You’re Beautiful, which was chock-full of frustrating situations that need not have been added. It stretches out the storyline, and builds our anticipation for a stunning climax. All you can do is sit there and endure the annoying parts, because when all is said and done, the romantic apex is very rewarding. From love-triangles, to a couple of villains, from sneaky reporters, to meddling aunties, this show throws every hurdle at the romance!

The soundtrack was filled with awesome K-Pop ballads and songs, which were just heart-warming and awesome. Many of them were sung by the actors themselves, which made them that much more amazing! There weren't a huge array of songs throughout the show, but the one’s they did have were perfectly suited to the story. 

Manager Ma was hilarious!
There were many highlights throughout the show for me. One of my favourites would have to be Manager Ma (Kim In Kwon). I laughed so hard when he considered locking Hwang Tae-Kyung up in a room, so that he wouldn’t reveal Mi Nam’s gender to the world. They then recreated a scene from Oldboy, and even used its beautiful, haunting score. His shining moments were always very funny.

I also really enjoyed the antics of Mi-Nam's aunty, Go Mi Ja (Ran Choi). She was obviously a pretty rotten, seflish person; but her abrupt silliness was a fun contrast to the calmer characters. I don't know why, but she just sucked me in and won me over.

Yu-Jin Kim is my MVP of 'You're Beautiful.'
One of the greatest aspects of the show was the villainess, Yoo He-Yi (Yu-Jin Kim). She gave such a marvellous performance as the mean, fake, darling of Korea. Her piercing looks towards Go Mi-Nam were like daggers, and her fights with Hwang Tae-Kyung were pretty entertaining. I don't know why, but I was always so excited when she was on screen. Maybe because I knew she would be the 'perfect bitch,' again, and outshine everyone else on screen. Yes, to me Yu-Jin Kim was the strongest of the cast. Not only could she make me believe she was pure evil, but she could also make me believe that she was deeply hurt by Tae-Kyung. She was the shining star of the show. 

Kim Sung-ryung was phenomenal as Mo Hwa Ran.
I cannot talk about this show without mentioning the outstanding performance of Kim Sun-ryung. I wouldn't exactly call Mo Hwa Ran a 'villainess,' but she certainly wasn't there to be liked. She is the mother of Hwang Tae-Kyung, who she abandoned when he was a child. Her story is interesting, and it was elevated by her extremely emotional performance. I personally thought that she was the most beautiful woman in the show, despite her being a good decade or so older than the rest. She's stunning. 

Jeremy was my favourite of the band members. 
Not gonna lie, I gravitated towards Jeremy (Hong-ki Lee) more than anyone in the show. His character is pretty dim-witted, but he's loyal, charming, kind, funny, and caring. He's there for comic relief, yet somehow, I wanted to see Go Mi-Nam end up with him. Hong-ki Lee can sing for me any-day! hehe

Kang Shin-Woo was the third-wheel in the love-triangle.
At first, I absolutely adored Kang Shin-Woo (Yong-hwa Jung). He is the perfect gentleman, the kind of person anyone would be happy to go out with. Unfortunately, the nice guys never win. That's how it is with Korean Dramas, Japanese Dramas... any dramas really. No matter how wonderful he is, he just doesn't capture the heart of our leading lady. I was rooting for him, but from the very first episode I just knew he'd be swept aside. Oh well, he should have been upfront with Go Mi-Nam. 

In the end, it is all about the romance between Go Mi-Nam and Hwang Tae-Kyung. Shin-hye Park and Jang Keun Suk had such a wonderful, infectious chemistry with each other. They could make me roar with laughter, and they could make my heart sing out "aww." I didn't like them in the beginning, but as time progresses, you truly come to love them both. Sure, they have their annoying faults, but you can't help but root for them the whole way. It's one of the most heart-warming, entertaining relationships I've ever seen. In the end, I realised that the two are meant for each other. He's her star, and she's his pig-rabbit. That's the way it should be. 

You're Beautiful is such a fun, exhilarating, entertaining show! It may not be my absolute favourite Korean Drama, but it's definitely one of the best. If I had to describe it in one word, I'd call it: Unforgettable. 


  1. I agree, not my favorite but I fell for Jang Keun Suk and Park Shin-Hye right away. And have come to adore Lee Hong-ki and Jung Yong-Hwa as actors and musicians. You're Beautiful in particular has many of those annoying complications because we don't buy them all like in some dramas, but I think our love for this drama shows the power of the actors. Cheers.

    1. Meanwhile, I didn't fall for them right away. I had to warm up to them :)