For the longest time, I refused to ride the Korean wave (Hallyu). I vividly remember my school friends sharing anecdotes of K-pop artists that they admired. But I was adamant about never falling for this. Now that I think about it, my excuses seem lame. I would say that I don't have the patience to read subtitles or, I do not wish to watch any cutesy romantic shows. Well, the joke's on me because once I got into this, that's all I have been watching.
A couple of months back, I stumbled upon a few edits from the show My ID is Gangnam Beauty and, a few random scenes caught my attention. So, despite my prejudices, I decided to give it a watch. This 2018-drama features Im Soo Hyang, Cha Eun Woo, Jo Woo Ri and Kwak Dong Yeon in the titular role. The show is a commentary on issues like unrealistic beauty standards and discrimination based on physical appearance that is prevalent in the South Korean society. This concept is quite relevant even today and has a universal appeal to it. Here's everything I loved about this show.
The plot revolves around a timid and innocent freshman Kang Mi Rae (Im Soo Hyang), who has low self-esteem because people consider her "ugly". To escape the bullying and humiliation she faced in school, she undergoes plastic surgery. But even after altering her appearance to be the best possible, she is ridiculed and mocked as "Gangnam Beauty" (a derogatory term in South Korea for people who look as if they went through several plastic surgeries).
I loved how the story progresses when Mi-rae can accept herself the way she is and even change the perception of those around her. In the process, she realises that even those who meet these ideal beauty standards have their struggles and are not free from judgement or discrimination.
This show is filled with the kind of cutesy old-school romance that we have been watching since our childhood. The male lead, Do Kyung Seok (Cha Eun Woo,) reminds me of Varun Dhawan from Student of the Year. He is the college heartthrob with the perfect looks, personality and skills. Even though his life is not a cakewalk, he keeps his guard up to avoid comments about his family life.
He is the most ideal boyfriend that I can imagine after watching several movies and shows throughout my life. He knows the right things to say in every situation, is the best support system and a true feminist who does not hesitate to take a stand. The innocent flirting and eventual relationship of Mi Rae and Kyung Seok is not just swoon-worthy but will surely make you crave a romance like theirs.
What felt like a simple coming-of-age story on the surface is a deep and well-made story about the many problems faced by women every day. Be it the body-shaming disguised as harmless jokes or degrading comments about physical appearance, they're brushed under the rug despite how many people face them. I enjoyed how the show addresses so many of these issues tactically, without ever making them feel preachy or overdone. My personal favourite moment is when Mi Rae gives a mouthful to her arrogant school bully, who had it coming for a long time.
This show was one of the best I have seen. It was a realistic story with authentic and flawed characters that made me feel a part of their world. The chemistry between the main leads and all the supporting characters felt just right. I also loved Mi Rae's parents, who were so supportive in every step that she took. Unlike the typical rom-com with a predictable narrative, this story was heartfelt and genuine and, it surely engulfed me in the world of K-dramas.