They say pretty hurts and it does.
Don’t judge a K-drama by its premise
I was already used to quirky over-the-top plots of webtoon-based dramas that I thought My ID is Gangnam Beauty would be another series filled with overzealous characters and out-of-this-world conflicts. The story of a girl who was bullied in middle school and underwent plastic surgery to have a fresh start in college might sound different but as it turned out Kang Mi-rae’s story is something we already knew; not because it was a cliché plot but because we have experienced it one way or another.
Kang Mi-rae (Im Soo-hyang) has been ostracized for her “ugly” face. The bullying and denigration she received might have been caused by childish behaviors of her classmates but it wounded her deeply. She decided to have a full-face plastic surgery because she thought she will be accepted and loved by following society’s standard of beauty. It took her a while before she realized that being pretty doesn’t equate to being happy.
Mi-rae had to meet Hyun Soo-ah (Jo Woo-ri) and Do Kyeong-seok (Cha Eun-woo) to realize that even beautiful creatures have hidden scars.
Another person’s rice cake always looks bigger
At the start of the series, Mi-rae had this habit of ranking people based on their looks. Since Soo-ah has a pretty face that everyone loved, Mi-rae was easily fooled by her pretentious acts. She ignored the tell-tale signs that give away Soo-ah’s scheming. Mi-rae wasn’t the only one who was deceived by this two-faced beauty. The whole Chemistry batch 2018 didn’t believe that someone with an angelic face would be so manipulative. Little did they know that Soo-ah has veiled insecurities.
Mi-rae was right for saying that Soo-ah and she is not that different. Soo-ah might be born pretty but she, too, is a victim of society’s cruel prejudices. She thought that she had to be pretty and submissive to be loved. The only difference between them is that Mi-rae had been fortunate to have a good support group. Mi-rae’s parents were always there for her. Yoo Eun (Park Yoo-na), Choi Jung-bong (Jung Seung-hye), and Oh Hyun-jong (Min Do-hee) were just one call away whenever she needed help.
Soo-ah, on the other hand, had no one. She had to put a lot of people at arm’s length to avoid exposing her real self. Out of all the villain in K-dramaverse this year, I think Soo-ah is the most pitiful among them. I don’t condone her selfishness and her slyness but I think I had to emphasize that Soo-ah is also just a victim just like our beloved main character.
Another proof that Beyonce’s song was right is Kyeong-seok. He might have Greek-god-level-good-looks but he was lonely just like Mi-rae. Our beautiful female lead had to get over Kyeong-seok’s intimidating handsomeness to see the sad face hiding behind that shining mask.
Kyeong-seok hated her mother Na Hye-seung (Park Joo-mi) throughout his teenage years because of his father’s lies. After discovering the truth about his parents’ divorce, he decided to leave his home and the comforts that came with it. Kyeong-seok struggled at first but he adjusted really well with Mi-rae and Yeon Woo-young (Kwak Dong-yeon) sunbae’s help.
Kyeong-seok might be the typical cold-yet-romantic K-drama male lead but this character is very consistent from start to finish. He’s a good judge of character. He knew when people are being genuine and being fake. He wasn’t fooled by Soo-ah’s deceptive acts. He made it clear from the start that physical appearance is not a window to someone’s character. This is something he had to repeatedly prove to Mi-rae before our girl realized that looks are not everything.
There is this perception that those with blessed visuals have it easier than most of us. This series put a spotlight on our prejudices on physical looks. We were all guilty of judging someone’s character based on how they present themselves to others. Mi-rae is guilty of it too and that, I think, is what makes her whole journey worth watching.
Mi-rae’s character progress was the reason why I was excited to see this series’ ending. I have to admit there were times that I got irritated by Mi-rae’s docility but I realized she was just a 20-year-old girl who still had to learn a lot of things. As I’ve said earlier, her story might be from a webtoon but it was a familiar tale to most of us.
When we were young, we valued how other people see us and we try hard to please everyone to the point that we sacrificed what truly makes us happy. In the end, Mi-rae realized that the acceptance she was looking for should start from within. I also love that she now know that other people’s opinion doesn’t matter. They don’t know her like the way the people who love her do. Their judgments shouldn’t affect her happiness because I repeat it doesn’t matter.
This drama also showed how ugly beauty standards are and how cruel stigmas can be. It also presented women’s struggles to please this patriarchal society. Girls shouldn’t be too chubby nor too skinny; girls should smile more; girls should keep their hair long. The series really tackled that issue and made me realized that no one had the right to dictate how someone should look and act.
My ID is Gangnam Beauty truly deserves the success it received. From its storytelling to its underlying thematic elements, this series was indeed beautifully crafted.
– Goo Tae-young (Ryu Ki-san) didn’t deserve Kim Tae-hee (Lim Ye-rim).
– I love the adorable Hyun-jung but I think Woo-young and his hoobae Kwon Yoon-byul (Bae Da-bin) could have been a cute couple too!
– Actually, now that I think about it, if Mi-rae doesn’t want him, Woo-young should know we are here for him lol
– For a handsome oppa who will hold our hands like Cha Eun-woo, we pray
– I need more Jung-boon and Woo-jin (Lee Tae-sun) moments though.
– I want to do this in my class too but I’m like Hyun-jung instead
– Leaving you with this kiss scene: