A drama that started out with a bang, filled with awesomeness that unanimously drew everyone in to see what would happen. However, by the second half of it all it just dragged and fell downhill…
Back again with another review for you all! I had just finished this drama just a couple of days ago, and I have to admit that I was purposely dreading to finish it. I guess I just can’t accept that our Doctor/Ahjumma couple will have to come to an end, after experiencing some of the highest and lowest times of their relationships. They have been through thick and thin (and no, that was not an intentional pun) together, and it just really pains me to finally place this drama to rest because no matter how slow and disappointing the second half of this drama became, I cannot deny the fact that I absolutely adored this couple to bits, as I do with most rom-coms.
And so enough rambling from me, let’s finish this once and for all!
Name: Birth of a Beauty (미녀의 탄생)
Broadcast Date: 1st November, 2014 to 11th January 2015
Number of Episodes: 21
Note: Started watching it when it first start broadcasting; finished the drama after returning from a mini holiday
Synopsis (borrowed from wiki.d-addicts):
A romantic comedy about the revenge, love, and success of a beautiful woman with the personality of an ahjumma. It will tell the story of a woman who is transformed after plastic surgery and diets, and the man who made her that way.
Han Tae-Hee (Joo Sang-Wook) is the heir of a large company. He is suffering from broken heart syndrome due to a psychological shock. To get the woman he loves back, he completely changes an unattractive and overweight ahjumma Sa Geum-Ran to beautiful Sara (Han Ye-Seul). In the process, Han Tae-Hee falls in love with Sa Ra.
To judge this drama from simply the first two episodes would certainly be giving this drama an unfair injustice in itself. So, my initial impressions will also include episode 3 & 4 😉
When I first came across the drama, I wasn’t really too sure what to expect. Like many, I thought that this drama would relate to “200 Pound Beauty”, which was one of the most hyped up Korean movies of all time; it was just one of those movies in which you either hated it or loved it to bits. Personally, I didn’t enjoy it as much, since it dealt with things that made me criticise the movie instead of liking it. So, following from that, thinking that this drama will deal with the moral confliction between ‘natural beauty’ and societal pressures into looking like the ‘ideal woman’, I thought that it would be a light and fluffy drama that deals with the typical themes: romance, love triangles, unexpected events that pushes two main leads together…ya know, the typical rom-com aspects.
However, by the 4th episode, this drama had literally covered every area possible in all of K-drama world: we have revenge, definite admittance of romance from one to the other, birth secrets, inheritance wars – you name it! Gradually, I got worried that this 20 episode drama (later 21 episodes!) would eventually become a hardcore makjang rather than a rom-com, after turning so dark within the course of 2 episodes. But, one thing was certain out of all of this – I was officially hooked by this point. And the main reason behind becoming hooked was definitely because of Han Ye-Seul and Joo Sang-Wook.
Han Ye-Seul acts as Sara, who used to be an overweight, sweet married woman going by the name Sa Geum-Ran (who is portrayed by Ha Jae-Suk initially), has now transformed into the ‘perfect woman’ through drastic diets and plastic surgery – a woman who is now considered ‘beautiful’ both inside and out. Even though she went through so much in order to gain back the traitorous husband who has hurt her both physically and emotionally, she was still determined to believe that this man was just sadly mistaken. Joo Sang-Wook acts as the good-looking Han Tae-Hee (and I mean, really really good looking~~), a very ambiguous character who is mainly referred to as the “Doctor” during the beginning of the drama, also has an important background story which is presumed to be reveal towards the middle of the drama. Both characters seem to have great sizzling chemistry right from the start, making it a no-brainer for me as to why I had to continue watching this drama. This is because usually, no matter how horrible a story can get in a drama, if the two leads have great chemistry, then they both can make any problem just fade away…
Another character that I have to mention is Sa Geum-Ran performed by Ha Jae-Suk. I want to mention her separately from Sara because we are introduced to her initially as a separate person from Sara. I felt so attached to Sa Geum-Ran’s character, before she went ahead to transform into her later self. It was really great how they spent an episode or so to really explain the hardships that she experienced, and to allow the audience to become attached towards her – to root for her. If the writer was attempting to draw large amounts of sympathy from the audience then congratulations, you have 100% succeeded in doing so.
And so, my initial impressions on the drama were truly great, and I was really looking forward in seeing what else was to come!
Opinions on the drama:
Firstly, I would like to thank the wonderful writer Yoon Young-Mi for bring us a drama that made me so excited and yet so frustrated at times too. As I have mentioned previously in my “A Well-Raised Daughter Ha-Na” Review, Yoon Young-Mi was the same writer for both dramas, and I can kinda see where the resemblances lie. She certainly enjoys writing about certain themes and genres (revenge definitely being one of them kekeke~) and I have to admit, she does have a great talent in writing about it!
The drama started out great in the beginning, and it continued doing so during the next 14 episodes or so. However, it became slightly slow draggy after that point, making the drama overall not exactly one of those ‘mind-blowing’ dramas although, it wasn’t exactly terrible; it’s just one of those dramas in which you can live without watching. However, one aspect that I must touch on now is that the chemistry among the cast in this drama is pretty damn good. So, if enjoyable chemistry among the cast is your thing then by all means, go ahead and check out this drama!
The overall positive aspect about this drama in fact within the first ¾ or so of the drama. In particular, it was through the amazing chemistry between our main leads (how many times am I gonna mention this point in this review, honestly?!) that really allowed this drama to shine. Their moments together, romantic or not, just showed us how well they could work together, and how naturally their feelings would develop for each other. In most dramas that we see, we can clearly notice when events try to find reason for our main leads to meet and fall for each other, but it wasn’t the case here. Their teamwork and loving care for each other purely from human nature, allowed us as the audience to see the mutual feelings that would gradually develop and form.
Instead of sacrificing themselves for the other, they communicated with each other (rare, I know!), trusted each other and worked together to solve the problems that occurred. Through these situations, it really showed that K-dramas can actually have proper balanced relationships that don’t seem unrealistic or clichéd, and I really liked that about the whole drama overall; it was probably the main reason why I continued to tune in every week to see what would happen. Even though at the beginning it looked like their personalities couldn’t have possibly mixed together (initially, it was literally like mixing water and oil together – how could they possibly click?!), their eccentric personalities seemed to compliment each other so nicely, making you just go “awwwwww~” for most of their special moments.
Spoiler Alert: Do not read this section if you don’t wanna know too much about the early developments of the drama in terms of the villains(roughly the first 5-6 episodes)
Another point that probably needs to be mentioned is the rest of the cast. I personally felt that the antagonists portrayed their role perfectly, if the whole point of their existence is to encourage me to root for the cute and loving couple instead of the lying, cheating and corrupted couple. None of their acting seemed to be a main issue however, one thing that I would have preferred is instead of having 3 enemies against the main leads who are poking and punching them in every moment possible, perhaps a more developed main antagonist could have been a lot better. The couple along with the corrupted CEO all seemed so shallow and one-dimensional. It may have been great if the writer had somehow fleshed out the reasons why they became this way. I certainly preferred Han Sang-Jin’s character, Han Min-Hyuk, more than our evil couple since he had enough of a background story to support his actions (and note that I mentioned ‘enough’, though more could have been great). Our evil couple though? Not so much. Sure, they want to rid Sa Geum Ran from their lives, but for a couple who seemed so ‘loving’ to suddenly have so much doubt in each other…seems not right. Why is Kang-Joon so fickle when it comes to his relationships? Was is because of his current upbringing and family, or something else? And with Chae-Yun, who was she as a person prior to meeting her future husband? As an announcer, was she always like this prior to meeting Kang-Joon? Does she really value wealth and fame over simplicity and true love? Was Kang-Joon the catalyst for her current ways, or not? I mean, she must have been a great enough girl if she had our handsome Han Tae-Hee all worked up and flustered after her sudden announcement to marry Kang-Joon. I just think that if the writer took some time to flesh out our villains’ back-stories more, perhaps the length of the drama wouldn’t have been so draggy and boring…but I’ll save this in the next part of this review 😉
End of spoilers…for now…
Now, onto the lengthier (is that a legitimate word?) bit of this review. As many have mentioned numerous times in their own reviews (me included), the remaining 5-6 episodes of this drama were certainly a really sad letdown. It felt as if the drama had just ran out of steam, and so many flaws in accordance to the characters just popped out of nowhere.
Note: This section may contain spoilers in regards to the final 5-6 episodes or so. It isn’t very specific (as in, no names are referred) however, it may contain content that implies what the remaining drama will contain. Please be careful~
The main one – noble idiocy and random short-term memory loss. Honestly, it is sad to see that these certain traits had to appear in one of our characters (I won’t mention who) and it just seemed so out of place. I mean, this person has just been so solid and badass, it seemed impossible that this particular character could become that way. It was so ‘forced’ that sometimes I even felt the reluctance from the person acting this character. It is terribly clichéd that this certain situation occurred which sometimes in K-dramas, is to be expected, but that wasn’t the main issue; the issue was that the whole scenario just dragged on for sooooooo long. I just wished at times that the drama was instead a 16 episode drama rather than a 20 ep drama, at most 18 episodes. It was so obvious that at least 2-4 episodes could have been cut out. What that would have resulted in would have been more succinct storytelling, and a lot less predictable. It was through this sudden turn of events in which I wished that perhaps the writer could have fleshed out the depth of our characters, especially the villains. As I had mentioned in detail before (in that little spoiler section kekeke~), I suggested that in order to fill those last couple of episodes or so, perhaps she should have allowed us to discover more about the reasons behind the villains being so evil. Han Min-Hyuk had enough motive to be the way he was, but for both Kang-Joon and Chae-Yun, not so much. Perhaps more character development for all three villains would have been preferable, rather than a lengthy, draggy and angsty scenario that lasted for 4 consecutive episodes.
Another thing was indeed the countless clichés that were scattered throughout the entire drama. Sometimes, there were just moments that made it really hard for me to swallow and accept. I mean, there is normal K-drama nonsense, and then there is Birth of a Beauty nonsense! Yes, I have to admit, K-drama clichés are in fact inevitable when we are discussing about K-dramas, but there is only so much that one can take without listing at least another 10 dramas where a certain moment or a certain line also appeared in. Specifically, linking to the point made above, the whole ‘noble-idiocy’ motion is just so boring and predictable; I really hope that at least once for an actual conflict within a K-drama that doesn’t involve one person to be forced away from another through self-sacrifice…I will continue to pray for that one moment in K-dramaland. I really am going to pray for that one drama where noble-idiocy is indeed not a legitimate reason for a couple separating from each other. *sigh* *shrug*
End of spoiler-ish section
Overall, I did enjoy the drama, mainly due to the fact that I loved and adored the really nice chemistry everyone had with each other in the drama. I personally felt that there were no ‘bad eggs’ in the basket, and that everyone pulled their effort. Of course, the plot and pacing was slightly disappointing but I have to admit, the acting really distracted me enough to finish the drama. These feels really drove me enough to finish the drama, period.
As mentioned before towards the start, this drama does deal with the issue of ‘appearance’ and ‘ideals’ within South-Korean society. Although I personally did not feel offended by this drama, I can see how others would criticise about this drama sending the wrong message to the public. Sara’s main purpose for going ahead and transforming her appearance (when personally, I found no problem with it), is that this woman was not satisfied with her current life as is, and desired a change that would allow her to finally appreciate herself. This drama wasn’t sending the message “if you’re unhappy with yourself, go ahead and get something fixed up”, but rather “if you are unsatisfied with how you are, take the initiative and do something about it; don’t just sit around waiting for something to happen”. That could be simply changing your current lifestyle, or maybe a personal habit that has been affecting your current daily routine. Whatever it may be, big or small, it requires action and the only one who can initiate it, is you. And so, I personally thought that this drama spoke volumes about how one should in fact maintain their health both physically and mentally, but finally psychologically. If something seems off about how you feel about yourself, seek advice and support from ones you can trust and can rely on – don’t stand alone because you never truly are.
Borrowing the rating system from the lovely goddesses of K-drama reviews themselves Javabeans and Girlfriday, I would rate “Birth of a Beauty” as:
How much I liked it: 7/10
How good was it objectively: 7/10
Alright, it is time to finally close the book of this chapter, and to finally say farewell to our adorable Doctor/Ahjumma couple, who seem to have an unstoppable amount of chemistry that even Brangelina would be jelly about! Thank you to the cast and production crew for bring us such a cutesy and enjoyable drive that I tried to stay dedicated to. And, thank you all once again for tuning into this super lengthy review, and I hope to see you all again in the next one. Take care, and I wish you all a lovely day/night 😉
❤ Yami Hyunnie ^^~