[K-Drama Review] She was Pretty

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Native title: 그녀는 예뻤다
Network: MBC

Summary: Kim Hye Jin was a very pretty girl from a rich family. After her family’s publishing company went bankrupt, she experienced hardships then lost her beauty too. Ji Seong Jun was an unattractive boy with low self-esteem, but grows up as a handsome and successful editor. (MDL)

SIGHS People might start thinking that I have a low tollerance seeing my latest reviews, however, don’t worry. I’m not actually an ogre-lady and I am not that hard to please, but sometimes I just flip. Like in this case.

Story

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Ugly Betty. Which actually made it interesting for the first 10 episodes; also, having worked in this setting before, I was engrossed into the whole editing team problems and how hard is to actually write a successfull magazine. That’s till the main characters kept being more focused on their cheesy love story, rather than their overall lives, which almost made them look like a bunch of teenagers that sway at the sight of their other half instead of 30 years old adults, till the last few episodes where the setting was once again picked up, which signed some enjoyable moments overall, but a bit late for me to not feel deeply annoyed about most things at that point; everything was rather unbalanced. But turning back to the romcom part, based on the title, “She was Pretty“, I expected a love story about a guy that turned handsome and a girl that turned “ugly” (even though Hye Jin was anything but ugly, more like uncared for). I expected them to fall in love despite their very different priorities and very different styles, to learn to accept eachother for what they are, which they did at one point, but the message was never properly delivered in the end; “She WAS Pretty” had no meaning in the end. As you might know or might not know, Korea is a society that focuses on looks to the point of obsession, the drama was initially good at showing us that, if you have messy hair and don’t apply make up, people are going to look at you almost with disdain, if you’re fat, it’s even worst, alienation and bullying is going to await you; well, unfortunately, drama didn’t manage to keep to its own theme. During the last 6 episodes, it barely even mattered anymore; I felt like I was watching a different show entirely, which was a real pain for me because I really enjoyed it overall up to halfway through. What could have turned out as a memorable fashion-related-setting romcom with the good message of “looks into a superficial world don’t necessarily have to matter“, fell into the usual troupes of its own genre.

Characters

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Mostly superficial. Bland. And those that weren’t bland, just had gimmicks to them that in the end didn’t matter. Nobody saved itself, besides Shin Hyeok. And let me get this straight. There have been attempts of giving them deepness and character development. I liked Seong Joon’s condition, I liked Hye Jin’s self sacrificing personality, I liked Ha Ri’s inner struggle, but they went nowhere. By episode 15 of the show, Seong Joon turned into a hopeless romantic, Hye Jin turned into an observer, just simply answering and reacting to what was happening (typically romcom heroine), as for Ha Ri, useless tragedy and convenient reason to drag the plot, but I did appreciate her resolve to start doing things on her own, without any help. The rest of the cast? Forgettable, despite being lots of developing potential and interesting takes through the editing team characters as well, but just ignored for the sake of romance (because obviously, let’s not forget this is a romcom). As for, Shin Hyeok, he was the only character that knew and had any shades of “greys”. And no, for any one of you that is starting to assume, no, I am not a Siwon fangirl, I didn’t even consider his existence till this drama. And no, I did not exactly ship Hye Jin and Shin Hyeok; to be sincere, I did not ship anybody. He was just the character that connected them all and that, in the end, tied them all up and motivated all of them up. If there’s a reason why the characters managed to reach that little character development that they had, is exclusively because of Shin Hyeok slapping some sense in each and all of them.

Cast/Acting

Hwang Jung Eum (Hye Jin). Oh, Hwang Jung Eum, you are only sweet when you stop overreacting, sweetheart. Comedy doesn’t mean overreaction; no, let me rephrase, comedy doesn’t mean yelling and hiding under tables, dropping everything in your way and act as if you’re on crack 90% of the time, unless it’s meant to be a parody. It’s the problem that I had with her role in Kill Me, Heal Me as well, when she was involved. For the rest, I must praise Siwon (Shin Hyeok), of course. I don’t know if he improved or not from his last role, but I really liked to witness his famous “derp faces”, as well as his funny to bittersweet expression changes. It was very warming. As for Park Seo Joon (Seong Joon) , I must compliment him when he had to deal with his post-traumatic condition, but besides that, not much else. The rest of the cast was pretty much average, didn’t really made me care about their performance as they didn’t make me care for their characters either.

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Music

Okay, I guess, though forgettable and limited. I can’t remember any of the tracks up to now to be sincere…

Tools/Execution/Storytelling

(because I consider them important enough to mention now)

For once I didn’t feel that spammed by flashbacks as I usually do when I watch Korean dramas, which is good. The filming was also dealt with pretty nicely, I guess. I at least have nothing to complain. What I do have to complain about though, is the storytelling and execution. There are lots of points that are ignored from episode 1 of the show, which people tried to assume, but till an official answer, it just stays as that: assuming. For example (jump over this if you don’t want to read SPOILERS), we have Hye Jin complaining and saying that she wished she had Ha Ri’s face and body, yet, as the best friend and “wife” Ha Ri is supposed to be, did she try to help Hye Jin? No. Did Hye Jin ask for help? No. Explanation? None. What kind of friends/sisters/wives are you? Is pride the reason? Can it really stand inbetween this supposed deep friendship so much? If it does, I have some issues towards the conception of “friendship” in this drama. Another one, Hye Jin is asked by the director to be more Most-like and she tried to apply make-up, which she fails horribly at. Why did that happen? Pride again because she had no intention to ask for help? Then what about later? Somebody that has no idea how to even apply eye-shadows, suddenly becomes able to. How? Errr….Also, one of the biggest plot holes was when Ha Ri stole and gave the puzzle piece to Seong Joon, then later drama acted as if that never happened…Ok. And there are more but I’m just going to END SPOILERS HERE.
You might say that nobody cares and these are just me picking on unimportant details; well, I must bring to your attention that these “details” makes the “execution“. I do not take a story seriously, when the details just don’t match or are skipped over. It’s a superficial way of storytelling and execution that I will never approve of, unless its intent IS clear to be superficial to begin with and have a completely different goal than me focusing on the story.

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Overall&Enjoyment

It was painful. I must confess that I dropped it around episode 15, one episode from the end and that’s because it was so painful to think of what it was and what could have become, that I couldn’t bear my frustration anymore. I don’t usually drop series. I watch even what doesn’t particularly interest me; a good show can be good even if I’m not emotionally invested in it or I can’t care less about the topic. I even keep watching it, when I find it bad, but at least I can have fun to point out everything wrong with it. In this case, I couldn’t even have the pleasure of laughing at it, for how frustrated I became. If it rode on Kill Me, Heal Me‘s popularity as I read around internet? Maybe, yes. Maybe no. But I don’t count that as the only factor why it failed. And I didn’t even like Kill Me, Heal Me either, so for me it wouldn’t have changed anything.

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16 thoughts on “[K-Drama Review] She was Pretty

  1. I’m so sorry you had to suffer through this! My friend was trying to get me into kdramas more since I prefer jdramas. I’ve only really enjoyed Secret Garden but it really bothers me how superficial kdramas are. Everyone has to have plastic surgery if they don’t look good or else their life is over. I get that it’s another culture but it’s mind boggling to me.

    And when the whole reason you watch a show is to someone try and flip that perspective to show how we can be ugly inside but pretty on the outside, only to have it go NOPE she’s pretty again!!! Just NO.

    If you haven’t watched Secret Garden I would say that one was good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. That’s what I feel about most kdramas that I have watched too. They’re superficial on several levels, but the MAIN issues are that they don’t have a complete script before filming. The scripwriters sometimes write the scrips of the very scenes that they have to film in THAT day! Which of course leaves little time to the actors to try and figure out how they’re supposed to act and there’s a bigger chance for plot incoherences or random changes of the characters’ attitudes when the scripwriter writes scene 6 of an episode then goes back to scene 2 then jumps again to scene 8. It’s what I feel happened for most dramas that I watched (and were especially popular in Korea and between kdrama fans, but just overall failed to impress me) like Bridal Mask, Empress Ki and Kill me,Heal me. I have not yet watched Secret Garden, but I will check that one out since my kdrama friend also recommended it to me. Other kdramas that I fairly liked were I hear your voice and God’s gift (but not much besides those that I can recommend)… OH! I watched Library Wars ! The movie was amazing! I plan to write a review for it soon !

      Liked by 1 person

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