The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Miss Korea

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

Quiet, low-key and unassuming, Miss Korea is the modest little drama that could.

What Miss Korea lacks in big plot movement, it makes up for with attentive character establishment and development, which gives this series its almost-but-not-quite slice-of-life, almost-family-drama feel. Populated by earnest characters who feel ordinary, real and likable, Miss Korea is the kind of show that one develops a slow but enduring affection for.

Another helpful thing to know: Despite its title and premise, Miss Korea isn’t really about beauty pageants per se. It’s more about how ordinary people muster up their inner mettle, to face seemingly insurmountable challenges; not only to survive, but to pursue meaning and happiness in their lives.

An underrated, heartwarming little gem.

Miss Korea OST – Hero

THE LONG VERDICT:

In a nutshell, Miss Korea is an underdog drama about underdogs.

When Miss Korea aired, it was in direct competition with ratings sweeper You From Another Star, which took not just the dramaverse, but practically the entire world by storm. There’s even this article out there, detailing how the intergalactic juggernaut known as You From Another Star has changed lives in China.

Which means that the meta is just perfect, coz not only is Miss Korea the little underdog drama striving against more big-budget, shiny competition, Miss Korea is about a group of underdogs striving against more big-budget, shiny competition. There’s just something that I find so apt about that.

While Miss Korea is nowhere as cracktastic as You From Another Star, it’s endearing and charming in its own modest way. Given the chance, this one might grow on you yet.

STORYTELLING, FEEL & TONE

Despite its title and premise, Miss Korea really isn’t about our cast of characters fixating on the Miss Korea pageant per se. Rather, it’s about a motley group of ordinary folk experiencing a particular dark moment in South Korea’s economy. In 1997, jobs are shaky, businesses are going bust, and everyone feels the brunt in some way.

Which means that despite the show’s warm core, the overall tone of the drama is one that leans more dark and sober, and less bright and cheery. Honestly, sometimes it’s hard to watch because it’s just not easy to see characters that you’ve come to care about get beaten up by life. Because our characters are living in a time where everyone else in that world is struggling with desperation and hopelessness too, there are times when the watching the show can feel particularly sobering.

On the upside, the show doesn’t overdo it, and keeps the dark tone moderate. Another upside is that as our characters grapple with life, we do get to experience milestones, victories and payoffs with them, and these bring the bright spots to the drama.

Another source of bright spots is the regular flashbacks to our characters in school. Seeing Lee Sun Gyun and his ahjusshi friends decked out in high school uniform, acting like teenagers, is cute, ridiculous and never gets old.

The pacing of the show leans slow, and it takes a while to get to know our characters and their situations properly. On the upside, the show is carefully written. Characters are nicely fleshed out, and context is painted with care and enough subtlety so that the focus remains on our characters on a micro level.

Eventually, it’s likely that the show will sink its roots into you in a tangible way. By the halfway point, I genuinely cared about our characters. And by the time I said good-bye to them at the end, I felt them – and the show – linger with me.

As narrow as the focus can sometimes be, this show has a way of making me care. So no, you don’t have to be into beauty pageants to actually care about our characters in this show. Heck, at one point, this show even had me caring about lip gloss. As a plot point.

MY 4 FAVORITE THINGS IN THIS DRAMA

Treatment of the OTP

There’s something very fresh, genuine and natural about the way our OTP is portrayed that I enjoy very much.

First of all, the forming of the relationship feels natural.

When we first meet these characters, they are estranged and living very different lives, despite clearly knowing each other from before. I found the writing around how their relationship eventually blossoms believable, and the execution, organic. Credit too, to Lee Yeon Hee and Lee Sun Gyun for performances that feel sincere and authentic.

Secondly, the dynamic of the relationship itself feels natural.

This is not an OTP given to the dramatics that have become hallmarks of dramaland. We’re not dealing with a rich alien chaebol and a dirt-poor Candy. We don’t get showy declarations of love. There are no Falling Kisses. Nor Dramatic Backhugs. Nor Endless Tears. Nor Noble-Idiocy-induced Separations.

It’s actually refreshing to see two regular, normal people fall in love and go about it in an understated, everyday, normal sort of way. It feels fresh and quite delightful to see them talk and actually communicate. And perhaps my favorite thing of all about this relationship, is this couple’s natural tendency and immediate instinct to be genuinely happy for the other person.

I just love how their demonstrations of love can be so subdued and matter-of-fact, and yet at the same time, so heartfelt and real. It shows us that you don’t need grandiose gestures of love in order to have romance; that we can potentially experience the same kind of love and sweetness too, coz it feels so accessible and normal.

[SPOILERS]

There are a couple of things that I particularly enjoy about the relationship dynamics between our OTP.

And perhaps still on that point about their relationship feeling like something we can enjoy too, maybe we should be taking notes or something 😉

Equal Opportunity Skinship

In quite a departure from kdrama norms (& perhaps Real Life too, depending on where you’re coming from), our heroine Ji Young (Lee Yeon Hee) is often the one to initiate skinship and closeness.

Like in this scene from episode 20, where she cheerily greets Hyung Joon (Lee Sun Gyun) with literal open arms, so that they can start their date with a hug. How awesome is she?

Throughout the show, there are multiple instances where she is the one to reach for Hyung Joon’s hand, and the one to cuddle up close to him, and I love that she does it all without a shred of self-consciousness or petulance. Instead, she’s consistently warm and upbeat and cheerful about it, and because of this, I love her even more.

I’d love her more too, if I were Hyung Joon.

They really enjoy being together

Another thing I love about this OTP is how much they clearly enjoy being together.

Like this scene (above) in episode 6 where Ji Young finally tells Hyung Joon that she’ll enter Miss Korea with him. The childlike delight on Hyung Joon’s face, and the absolute adoration in his eyes as he looks at her is clear as day. And Ji Young finally smiles her first genuine smile of contentment all series long.

Another scene I love is in episode 11, when Ji Young literally runs home in the freezing cold in order to see Hyung Joon for a bit in the middle of the night, even though she’s supposed to be at the pageant training camp.

She quietly lies down facing Hyung Joon and when he wakes with a start, she confesses that it’s lonely at the camp. Hyung Joon asks, “And you want to be with me?.. I thought you said you wouldn’t like me.”

Ji Young admits it with sweet matter-of-fact-ness, “Yes, but it’s not going so well. So.. I’m just going to like you. A lot. I’m just going to like you.”

Hyung Joon’s face breaks into this gentle, tender smile with a mix of wonder and “what am I going to do with you?” in his eyes, while Ji Young smiles back at him contentedly.

Aw. Ji Young’s sweet confession is pretty awesome. And them just looking at each other, soaking up the other person’s presence, is really sweet.

I really luffed this scene.

I loved, too, this little scene in episode 16, when Ji Young and Hyung Joon finally connect again after the pageant, during which Hyung Joon couldn’t be present.

Aw. Wouldja look at those happy faces? They look they’re about to explode with joy from the combined awesome of Ji Young’s pageant win and being together.

Such a sight for sore eyes, truly. ❤

They demand tenacity from each other

One of the most awesome things about this OTP is that they demand tenacity from each other.

Instead of coddling each other in times of stress or difficulty, they each remain strong and expect the other to do the same. This standard that they instinctively set, to be their best and to expect the best, really helps each to draw out the mettle and strength of the other, and I think it’s just fantastic stuff.

One example is this scene in episode 8, when Ji Young can’t sleep coz she’s nervous about the pageant preliminaries and wakes up Hyung Joon in the middle of the night.

She confesses how nervous she is, and instead of holding her and telling her it’ll all be ok like other male leads in dramaland might’ve done, Hyung Joon suggests that they practice together, and they start to run through her paces right there in his bedroom.

Later, Ji Young dives under the blankets to avoid potentially being discovered when they hear footsteps outside the room, and our OTP gets to spend a few moments up-close-and-personal. It’s a potentially rawr-inducing moment, and to Hyung Joon’s credit, he doesn’t try to kiss her. I love that he chooses instead to address her main concern – the competition – and tells her gently and reassuringly, “Don’t be nervous. You’re going to do well.”

Another similar moment that I really love is in episode 11.

After the representative from BaDa Cosmetics, Kim Kang Shik (Jo Sang Ki), makes a barefaced threat to Hyung Joon to give up or risk losing his company, both Ji Young and Hyung Joon tell him without hesitation that they won’t give up.

After Kang Shik walks away, Ji Young immediately turns to Hyung Joon and tells him, “Good job. If you said you were going to give up, I would’ve beaten the crap out of you.”

Hyung Joon tells her that she might really not be able to become Miss Korea and asks her if she still thinks he did a good job. Ji Young replies, “Well, because of me your company might fall apart. Did I still do well?”

Hyung Joon thoughtfully nods his agreement. And then Ji Young smiles, and Mms her agreement too.

I just freaking love that they insist on each other’s courage and tenacity without hesitation.

How awesome is Ji Young’s immediate response to Hyung Joon, that she would’ve beaten him up if he’d given up? I love that they both refuse to cave even though the stakes are high for them both. Hyung Joon won’t give up even if it means that he may not be able to save his company because of Ji Young, and Ji Young won’t give up even if it means that she may not win Miss Korea because of Hyung Joon.

There’s something so very endearing and awesome about that.

They really care about each other

Another fantastic thing about this couple is how they truly care for each other. Each is genuinely happy for the other person, regardless of his or her own circumstances. In fact, I’d venture to say that each thinks of the other’s success, safety and happiness first, before thinking of their own. And this is something that happens consistently over the course of the show.

A classic example of this dynamic at work between them is at the end of episode 15. Hyung Joon finally staggers past a shop window and sees Ji Young accepting her Miss Korea crown on TV. He’s just had the Worst Day Ever, and at this moment in time, has pretty much lost everything. His life is officially a mess. And yet, he smiles with tearful joy to see that Ji Young has achieved her dream.

On stage, Ji Young has no idea what’s happened to Hyung Joon and why he never showed up for the pageant, but she thanks him and the Vivi team with grateful tears in her eyes and tells them that she’s standing on the stage wearing the BB cream that they personally made.

I love that Hyung Joon instinctively shares in Ji Young’s joy despite the chaos in his own life, and I love that Ji Young trusts him and thanks him and finds a way to plug the BB cream right away on top of it all.

I love that they care about each other in such a deep and genuine way.

The Surprise Secondary Couple [SPOILER]

Another significant highlight in the show for me is the coming together of the odd couple, Teacher Jung (Lee Sung Min) and Dr. Go Hwa Jung (Song Sun Mi).

I’m pretty impressed with the writers for pulling this off, coz the two characters are as different as chalk and cheese, what with one being a gangster debt collector and the other being a genteel researcher. Plus, they start out the show hating each others’ guts too. Despite all that, how they come together feels believable and organic. Kudos to the writers, and to the actors too, for making this relationship feel authentic and engaging.

Even more than the cuteness of their awkward courtship, I really enjoyed watching their gruff expressions of self-sacrificing love for each other. Like Teacher Jung giving up his house to get funds for the Vivi team so that Hwa Jung won’t be heartbroken by Vivi’s failure. Or Hwa Jung giving up her apartment so that Teacher Jung has a place to sleep. And possibly my favorite one of them all: Teacher Jung going back to Jeju Island to get Hwa Jung’s necklace back from the pawn shop without thought for himself.

He does it without thinking of getting back his own necklace. He does it without a personal agenda too, coz at this point in time, he believes that Hwa Jung is leaving for further studies and that there’s no longer any hope for them to continue their relationship. He does it for her simply because he feels that she’ll be lonely by herself in a foreign land, and he believes that having the necklace that her mother gave her, would give her comfort.

Aw. How sweet is that? ❤

This show is practically a masterclass in practical, everyday ways of showing love, I tell ya.

[END SPOILERS]

The Vivi Team

The Vivi team is a motley crew that really grew on me.

They’re an earnest, hard-working, good-hearted bunch of quirky individuals, and as we progressed through the episodes, I couldn’t help but root for this underdog team to triumph over their bigger, more established corporate competitors.

I liked their work ethic of wanting to provide quality products to customers at an affordable price; I appreciated their genuine pride in their products; I loved how wholeheartedly they try to help Ji Young prepare for the Miss Korea pageant, even though they have no experience in beauty pageants whatsoever.

Their earnest support of Ji Young is sincere and heartfelt, though, and I loved seeing how excited and happy they were each time Ji Young did well.

And I particularly love this shot of the quirky clumsy Vivi boys doing squats with Ji Young. Y’know. For solidarity.

Hee.

Ji Young’s Household of Mothering Men

Another quirky, motley, endearing bunch are the men in Ji Young’s household.

From Grandpa (Jang Yong), to Dad aka “Mom” (Jung Kyu Soo), to Uncle (Jung Suk Yong) to Oppa (Baek Bong Ki), they all mother her relentlessly and are super protective of her, and it’s really cute.

I love how the men awkwardly try to figure out how to protect Ji Young as well as support her over the course of the show. They’re often clumsy about it, but their love for Ji Young is whole-hearted, and it’s clear that they would pretty much do anything for her.

[SPOILERS]

From making a 180-degree turnaround to support her bid for Miss Korea, to giving her oily ex-manager (Jang Won Young) a sound beating to teach him a lesson, to recording a cheesy family cheer for Ji Young, to visiting her with food, this household of mothering men do all that they can to show their support and love for the precious daughter of their family.

And dontcha just love this shot of the men dancing and jumping in glee in their jammies while watching Ji Young compete live on TV?

Adorable.

[END SPOILERS]

Miss Korea OST – Moonlight

MY 4 FAVORITE CHARACTERS

Lee Yeon Hee as Oh Ji Young

Just like how Jung Ryu Won went in my mind from meh to OMG-I-luff-her! in her role in History of the Salaryman, Lee Yeon Hee charted a similar journey in my mind with this show.

I’d seen Lee Yeon Hee before, in One Fine Day (2006) and in snippets of Ghost (2012), and I’d consistently found her pretty, but utterly bland and uninteresting.

Imagine how hard my jaw hit the floor when I found myself flat-out loving her performance here in Miss Korea. I mean, she makes Ji Young strong yet vulnerable. And she plays Ji Young so naturally, and gives Ji Young a distinct sense of fragility beneath her veneer of bravado, which makes her feel so accessible, likable and real.

I am so blown away, seriously. Where has this version of Lee Yeon Hee been hiding, all this time?? And can she never go away, pretty please?

[SPOILERS]

There’re a good number of things to love about Ji Young, and these are my top 3.

She’s brave

What gets to me is that Ji Young isn’t fearless. She has anxieties and fears and insecurities just like anyone else. But she musters up the courage anyway. I love that about her. And she’s loyal while she’s at it too.

In the incident in episode 8 when she runs back home to spend a bit of time with Hyung Joon, she admits to feeling lonely coz things are tough-going in the training camp. Yet, she consistently doesn’t allow her peers’ persistent bullying to get her down. She stands up for herself and also bravely puts her chin up to weather it all.

In episode 11, the pageant hopefuls are all told that they will be signed to an endorsement deal with BaDa Cosmetics if they win, and Ji Young speaks up without hesitation to publicly turn down the endorsement deal because she wants to stick with Vivi. I love that fierce loyalty in her.

When the big day of the pageant comes around and the entire Vivi team doesn’t show up, I love that Ji Young powers on by herself even though it would usually take a whole team of people to get a contestant ready. Through it all, her vulnerability peeks through her resilience, and you can tell she’s being brave. I can’t help but feel proud of her for valiantly powering through no matter what her emotions were on the inside.

This screenshot is taken just a moment after Ji Young lets her eyes linger on the empty seats that should’ve been occupied by the Vivi team. Her gaze falters for just a brief moment, before she musters up a smile for the camera. If you look a little closely, you can totally see the sheen of tears in her eyes. It’s clearly not easy for her to soldier on without her team cheering her on from the sidelines, but she squares her shoulders and does it anyway.

How can I not love her, right?

She’s gracious

Another thing I love about Ji Young is how gracious she is.

More than once, she chooses to forgive, when someone else in her place might’ve held a grudge instead. Like when she’s targeted and bullied during the pageant. And when she accepts the endorsement deal for Dream Department Store, despite the bad memories she’s had there, caused by her ex-manager.

Ji Young could’ve easily chosen to do the endorsement deal for a rival department store, since she’d been offered more than one endorsement deal. And she could’ve easily turned down Dream just to spite her ex-manager. But she doesn’t. When he grovels desperately before her, she doesn’t taunt him or revel in his misery. Instead, she accepts the deal and gives him a way to make amends, which is more gracious than most other people would be in her place, I suspect.

I particularly love how gracious – and honest – Ji Young is when dealing with Yoon’s (Lee Ki Woo) feelings for her.

In episode 11, Ji Young calls him out on his feelings for her, letting him know that she’s very much aware of his crush.

In the face of Yoon’s embarrassment, though, Ji Young is gentle, and doesn’t beat around the bush, “Don’t like me. I have someone I like, Oppa. I’m sorry.” She smiles. “You were one step too late.”

So refreshingly candid, yet while remaining gentle and gracious.

It’s no wonder Yoon is so smitten with her.

She’s determined

I love that Ji Young is determined and persistent and won’t give up easy. She’s committed to not only her pageant dreams, but to the love in her life too.

And perhaps the scene that best encapsulates that heartfelt, unwavering steadfastness in her, is this one in episode 12, when she confronts Hyung Joon about his plan to break up with her after the Miss Korea pageant, as part of his promise to Yoon.

After spending a bunch of time vacuuming the carpet while sorting out her thoughts, Ji Young doesn’t beat around the bush and gets straight to the point with Hyung Joon, “On the day that the Miss Korea pageant ends… are you going break up with me?”

When Hyung Joon only stares at her silently in response, Ji Young asks again, “Are you?”

Hyung Joon answers in the affirmative with a deadness in his eyes, “After I make you the first place winner.”

Ji Young smirks in response, “How touching..” then continues in steady, even tones as the a sheen of tears hints at her eyes, “There’s a saying that all the contestants have. ‘I want to be in the second half with you’. At the end of the first half, they pick the top 15 contestants. So, if you’re not in the top 15 you won’t be able to be in the second half, which is the highlight of the pageant. If you pack your bags and quietly leave the training camp, no one says anything. During the second half, they’re too busy choosing the winner of Miss Korea. Other than the top 15, no one remembers the other 37 contestants.”

Ji Young takes a breath as her voice begins to quiver, “Knowing you’re not going to be there, it feels like the second half is already gone. I feel like my life is just up to the first half.”

Hyung Joon begins, “Ji Young-ah..” but Ji Young continues, with tears and determination both rising, “So I decided. I’m going to make it to the second half of Miss Korea. And I’m going to make it to the second half with love as well. You just end it at the first half. It doesn’t matter. Just end it like you promised in the contract.”

With the quiver in her voice growing with each breath, Ji Young declares, “I’m not going to let you go. I won’t let you go. I’m sick and tired of not finishing what I started. Since I’ve lived like that my whole life, it feels like crap. Unless I’m crazy, why would I let you go at this point?” A tear rolls down Ji Young’s cheek, “You walk on eggshells around me. You’re thoughtful. You think I’m the prettiest woman in Korea. You’re going to make sure that I’m going to be called a president’s wife. And… And… you’re pitiful.”

“And?” Hyung Joon prompts. “You’re foolish.” Ji Young’s crying openly now.

Hyung Joon prompts her again, “And?”

Ji Young starts to cry out, “And…” ..and Hyung Joon swoops in to kiss her.

It’s a deep, hungry, searching kiss, and Ji Young kisses him right back. Hyung Joon puts his arms all around her and holds her tight, and again, she holds him tight right back.

Augh. So, so good.

This is possibly the best response to noble idiocy that I’ve seen by a character, ever.

I love how Ji Young works it all out and decides that Hyung Joon can break up with her as he promised Yoon, but that she’s not going to let him go.

What a great scene. It totally grabbed me by the heart. Can’t breathe and it feels so good.

[END SPOILERS]

Lee Sun Gyun as Kim Hyung Joon

Much as I enjoy Lee Sun Gyun (That Voice. Those Eyes.), I hafta confess that I didn’t always like Hyung Joon as a character.

There were moments in the show – mostly in the earlier episodes – where I watched Hyung Joon and thought to myself, “This guy can be such an ass.” 

But that’s also part of what makes Hyung Joon feel like such a real person. He’s flawed and imperfect, and when he’s under pressure to save his company, he can make decisions that make him look like a self-serving, calculative, manipulative jerk.

Over the course of the show, though, Hyung Joon redeems himself as a character. Slowly but surely, I found myself growing to like him in increasing measure. And there were even moments when I admired him.

That’s growth, right there.

Also, I never ever got tired of seeing Lee Sun Gyun play Past Hyung Joon, all shy, dorky and bespectacled.

Adorbs.

[SPOILERS]

There are a couple of things that I really like about Hyung Joon, and these are my pick for top 3.

He cares

Hyung Joon really does care. Although there are times when his decisions are self-serving, when it comes down to the wire, Hyung Joon proves that he really does care – for Ji Young, and for the Vivi team. And when push comes to shove, he’d sooner sacrifice his own interests than allow something bad to happen to the people that he cares about.

Like the time in episode 4 when he walks onstage during the pageant and carries Ji Young off the stage, for fear that she’ll hurt herself trying to compete in broken heels. This, despite knowing what it means to their chances of winning, and by extension, to the future of his company. But he does it anyway.

Or the time in episode 6 where Hyung Joon is practically beside himself with worry over Ji Young getting breast augmentation surgery for free as the model for a clinic that wants to have before and after photos.

He rushes over to the clinic while Ji Young’s on the operating table and puts down his own security deposit money down for Ji Young’s surgery, demanding that any “before” photos be deleted.

That he uses the only funds that he has towards Ji Young’s surgery, even though she is still with Queen salon at this point, and even though this will put his company in even more danger, is telling.

Just as telling is how he then runs through the hospital hallways yelling Ji Young’s name. “Ji Young-ah!! Oh Ji Young!” … “Hey, don’t be scared! I’ll be waiting for you so don’t be scared!”

He totally cares. And I dig that very much.

He knows Ji Young

For all the years that Hyung Joon and Ji Young drifted apart, I love that Hyung Joon truly knows her and understands what makes her tick.

I particularly love that the gift that he gives her in episode 11, a little box to be opened “when you’re having a difficult time and need conviction,” turns out to be so perfect.

After a particularly harrowing first night in the camp, Ji Young remembers the gift box and opens it, to find it packed neatly with chewing gum sticks. The very stuff that she used to chew constantly, back in high school when she was the prettiest, most popular girl in school.

Ji Young takes out a stick, unwraps it, and starts to chew. Soon, she’s blowing her signature bubbles. And soon after, she’s got her smile and her confidence back.

Gah. I just freaking love that Hyung Joon’s gift to Ji Young is something so small yet so appropriate, and it hits right home.

He knows exactly what will speak to her heart, and he prepares it for her, in advance. So, so perfect.

On a tangent, I just love that idea of “common” chewing gum sticks neatly packed in an expensive-looking, elegant box. That’s a metaphor for Ji Young herself, a normal, every-woman entering the Miss Korea pageant that’s populated by more “high-society” types.

That the gum hits the perfect spot, just like Ji Young turns out to be the perfect Miss Korea that hits the sweet spot for the people? Even more perfect. ❤

He’s smart

Another thing I enjoy about Hyung Joon is that he’s smart. Like, really smart.

I’m not sure if the idea for BB cream came from him, since the show is never explicit about it, but the idea for colored lip gloss is definitely his. I love that Hyung Joon doesn’t let the past get him down, but powers on with new ideas for the future, while riding on the past. I think that’s a really great quality.

I also really love the way Hyung Joon finally resolves the animosity and underhanded under-cutting techniques from Kang Shik in episode 20.

As the Vivi counter continues to do well at the department store, Kang Shik saunters over to drawl sarcastically, “You made a lot of money.”

Instead of getting his hackles up, Hyung Joon replies amiably, “Ah yes, thanks to you.”

Then Hyung Joon continues, in the same genial, rather earnest tone, “If… by any chance… you’re thinking of stabbing us in the back by making a copy of our lip gloss through a distributor… well, you’re too late for that, Hyung-nim. The other general stores have agreed to accept our products again.”

Hyung Joon pauses, then offers a friendly explanation, “I mean, the customers are king. The customers are looking for it so what can the general stores do but comply? And I’ll say it again so you can bear it mind.” Hyung Joon leans forward meaningfully, “You haven’t forgotten… that we can make the BB cream too, right? If we wanted to, we can make a knock-off BB cream right away, Hyung-nim.”

Kang Shik raises his eyebrows, “Are you threatening me right now?”

Hyung Joon pooh-poohs the notion, “Ah.. I’m just saying let’s not be that way to each other right now.” Maintaining his friendly tone, Hyung Joon continues persuasively, “I told you last time. Let’s help each other out. Let’s live well together. I haven’t changed at all. And my thoughts about that haven’t changed either. If you change the way you think, then I think everyone will be happy.”

Kang Shik clearly understands he’s been defeated, but says nothing and simply walks away.

Cheerfully, Hyung Joon calls out after him, “Goodbye, Hyung-nim!” And then smiles this understated, contented, fantastic little smile.

I just love how smart Hyung Joon is, to resolve the animosity with Kang Shik in such a low-key, simple but effective way.

And I love how friendly Hyung Joon remains through it all, even while “threatening” Kang Shik. He does it in the friendliest way possible, saying that they should just co-exist together. And you can tell that that’s really what Hyung Joon is after – not to win, but just to co-exist comfortably. Very nice.

[END SPOILERS]

Lee Mi Sook as Director Ma

Lee Mi Sook is a total scene stealer as Ma Ae Ri, the larger-than-life beauty salon director who grooms girls to be Miss Korea, year after year.

Director Ma is elegant, classy and above all, completely focused on the Miss Korea pageant. Her experience and expertise practically spills out of her pores, she lives and breathes Miss Korea so much.

Over the course of the show, Director Ma shows herself to be a truly awesome character, and I can’t help but love her. Plus, Lee Mi Sook does a fantastic, fantastic job bringing the character to haughty, classy, arched-eyebrowed life.

[SPOILERS]

Director Ma is one seriously strong character. She’s shrewd and very smart, and at the same time, it’s clear that she feels deeply too.

In fact, I felt that Director Ma was like a lover, almost, to her brood of hopefuls; not in any kind of hanky-panky sense, but in the emotional bond that she has with them. When they are with her, she tends to them with genuine care and seems almost motherly, albeit with a military streak a mile wide. The moment they are not with her, though, she is like a spurned lover, who won’t even give them a second glance.

We learn super fast that Director Ma is not someone to be trifled with.

Beyond the scary streak, however, there’s something that I found myself applauding again and again, and then again, over the course of the show, and that is, Director Ma is gracious and very, very classy.

Sometimes we see this quality in her play out in full scenes, and at other times, we see it in the little, almost throwaway moments. Here’s a quick list of Director Ma classy awesome:

  • E7. When Director Yang (Hong Ji Min) suddenly cozies up to Director Ma after multiple scenes of direct, catty competition, Director Ma actually answers without malice and agrees to solve the problem. Director Ma really is a nice person underneath the hard outer shell.
  • E7. Hyung Joon drags Ji Young to Queen Salon and asks Director Ma to do Ji Young’s hair just once. Most people in Director Ma’s position would throw them out, but she agrees to do Ji Young’s hair, in the spirit of fair competition. Director Ma really tends to surprise with her graciousness. And she really does have a genuine love for all things Miss Korea.
  • E9. Director Ma shows us that she really does care about Miss Korea as an icon, and it’s not just about winning the competition. She doesn’t report what she knows about the malt water, and instead seeks to find a solution that will protect the Miss Korea pageant from further scandal.
  • E9. Director Ma having dinner with Sun Joo (Kang Han Na) and offering to help her and her child if she quietly withdraws from the competition is the classy, caring Director Ma we’ve come to know. It’s in how she does it. There’s no malice and no threats, and she tries to understand the girl’s situation. She’s just classy and above all the screaming and hysterics that Director Yang engages in.
  • E9. Director Ma doesn’t even jump to her own defense when Director Yang comes in kicking and screaming, assuming that Director Ma blew the whistle on Sun Joo. Instead, Director Ma looks at how Jae Hee (Go Sung Hee) should have come in first. And at how Director Yang is damned if she knows, and damned if she doesn’t. One of her strong beliefs is really looking at your own part to play in it, rather than looking at who to blame. Gotta respect that about her.
  • E15. Director Ma doesn’t cave under pressure from Jae Hee’s dad (Go In Bum). Not only that, she gives Ji Young the tip to use the ladies’ washroom to get ready in instead, when Ji Young can’t find an available mirror on her own in the main dressing room.

A small-ish beat that I particularly love is how Director Ma quietly starts promoting the Vivi gloss in episode 19. It’s clear that she is doing it in part because it’s a quality product, and in part because she wants to help the Vivi team. I love that she finds a subtle, balanced way to do it.

When the situation allows for it, she presents the gloss as an option to her celebrity customer. She doesn’t just plug it willy-nilly. I love how she’s totally got her head screwed on straight and does what she feels is right, at the right time, in the right manner, never mind what people might think, and never mind her past competitive relationship with Vivi.

Her quiet way of promoting the gloss is just typical awesome Director Ma.

She may be a little eccentric in her fierce love for all things Miss Korea, but she’s also one classy, classy lady. Love it. Love her.

[END SPOILERS]

Miss Korea OST – Nostalgia

Lee Sung Min as Teacher Jung

From the moment we meet him, we can tell that Teacher Jung isn’t a very good gangster or a very good debt collector.

Given one last chance to “make good” by his disdainful President Hwang (Jung Seung Kil) through collecting on Vivi’s outstanding debt, Teacher Jung is effectively backed into a corner and close to desperate.

Lee Sung Min is fantastic as Teacher Jung, giving him shades of desperation and vulnerability and getting us to care about him as a character, even though he’s supposed to be one of the bad guys.

[SPOILERS]

I remember the very first moment that I felt sorry for Teacher Jung.

It’s in episode 3, after he’s practically had his guts beaten out of him by President Hwang for not having made progress on collecting on the Vivi debt.

I just find it so pitiful, really, that he has to clean the bathroom that’s been smeared all over by his own blood. There’s just something so pathetic about that, that I just couldn’t help feeling sorry for him.

As the show progresses, we get an increasing sense of Teacher Jung’s attachment to the Vivi team. Even his attempt to sell the BB cream sample in episode 6 to BaDa is endearingly half-hearted, coz he’s clearly started to care about the Vivi guys.

Eventually, instead of hanging over them like a foreboding shadow, Teacher Jung starts to help out around Vivi, and I really liked seeing that.

Basically, Teacher Jung’s the kind of guy who’s all gruff grizzly bear on the outside, but is like a big burly selfless father to the Vivi team on the inside. I love that he eventually quietly gives up his house to stay in a motel, and uses the money from the house to help fund Vivi’s lip gloss venture. And all without breathing a word to anyone too.

At the same time, I also really like the friendship that blossomed between Teacher Jung and Hyung Joon, against all odds.

I particularly love this shot of the two of them, holding their breath in anxious unison and clasping nervous hands while waiting to hear the results of the pageant preliminaries.

Don’t they sorta look like brothers like that? So cute.

[END SPOILERS]

Special Shout Out: Hong Ji Min as Director Yang

OMG Hong Ji Min is a total hoot as the theatrical, OTT Director Yang, who’s clearly as delusional about her own elegance as she is crass.

Her characterization is anything but subtle, but Director Yang definitely brings the laughs with her melodramatic, affected ways.

[MINOR SPOILER]

One of Director Yang’s mantras which I might never be able to forget is the catchphrase that she keeps using to coach her pageant hopefuls on their posture.

Literally translated, it means, “The strength is in the butt-hole!”

O.M.G.

Now that’s a phrase I never thought I’d hear in my kdrama. Nor a sentence I ever thought I’d write. Anywhere.

[END MINOR SPOILER]

WEAKNESSES

There is one major and one minor weakness that I’d like to highlight with regard to this show.

Major: Pacing

With so much goodness to offer when it’s taken apart, it’d be natural to assume that Miss Korea’s quite the rollicking watch. But it isn’t.

This show’s main weakness is that it can be slow at times, and there are stretches where it feels like not much is happening. Those were the times that I had to muster up my will to power through.

While I appreciate that the show allows a good amount of time post-pageant for consequences, fall-outs and resolutions to play out, it also meant that the show loses dramatic tension towards the end.

[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]

Minor: Logic

On a much more minor note, some things aren’t ever quite explained.

The biggest one being, I never understood Kang Shik’s vendetta against Vivi. Considering that he’s the main source of conflict in the final episodes, it makes sense that we should know why he’s got such a personal agenda against Hyung Joon and Vivi, coz it’s clearly not all business. But we never get that explanation, and that niggled at me.

Another minor-ish beef I had was how Sun Young (Ha Yun Joo) and Jae Hee were portrayed as being unable to sing or dance to save their lives. And then quite quickly, a few episodes later in episode 14, with no explanation, they are suddenly stage-ready. That.. didn’t ring true for me and was a minor peeve.

All in all, though, this show’s strengths far outweigh its weaknesses, and there are lots of goodies to be had for the patient viewer.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING 

I really enjoyed the ending of this show.

Because the Miss Korea pageant happens so early in the show, we get to spend a good chunk of time with our characters post-pageant, and that’s quite satisfying indeed.

I love that we get to see our OTP do what they do best: consistently taking pleasure in each others’ successes and victories, and each putting the others’ well-being and happiness above their own.

I really appreciate the closure between Ji Young and Yoon. I love that she reaches out to him to have that talk to close things so graciously and amicably. Kudos to Ji Young for being that kind of girl.

Also, I freaking love the scene where Teacher Jung and Hwa Jung finally, officially get together. As the love-birds share their first official kiss as a couple, the Vivi boys try not to fall apart in shock outside the store. Their shock and dismay is hilarious as they sputter, “We can’t keep up. We don’t have that kind of power.” Hahaha. I practically cried with laughter at this scene.

Essentially, nothing terribly dramatic happens in our final episode, but it’s a pleasant, positive, heartwarming ending. And we come away with the feeling that the characters’ lives will carry on and that they will continue to stand strong in the face of any challenges, long after the cameras have stopped rolling.

And that’s a very nice note to go out on indeed.

THEMES & TAKEAWAYS

There are several strong themes that surface over the course of the show that I like very much:

  • That there’s strength – and hope – if we would just work together.
  • That even when faced with forces that are much bigger and stronger than ourselves, we have reserves of resilience and creativity that will help us to power through.
  • That beyond a singular goal, it’s important to find meaning in life.
  • That in life, there are second chances.

Thought-provoking and uplifting messages indeed.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Mild, warm and quietly satisfying. Like a mug of warm tea on rainy afternoon.

FINAL GRADE: B+

VISUAL TREATS:

Here’s the trailer for those who haven’t seen the show:

And here’s a sweet little MV that’s just moderately spoilery:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

29 thoughts on “Review: Miss Korea

  1. Agreed! Enough fuzzies and compassion for me to have finished it 😉 well done as always.

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  2. Yay Miss Korea !!! I loved that drama, I think it was the best drama of the year so far to me. It had such good characters and the female lead was awesome. Although YFAS was good -wow that post about the success in China is scary-, I was more into Miss Korea when they both aired. YFAS was great but in the end I felt it became « less good » -while still being good- while Miss Korea just became more awesome. Also, I think I felt more of a connection to the characters of Miss Korea as a whole. I felt like I was part of the group you know ? Anyway, no reason to compare ^^

    I like the points you made. About the OTP, yes, I thought the great thing aboutt them was how natural their relationship was and how clear it was that they enjoyed each other’s presence. In some dramas I don’t even get why the OTP wants to be together when clearly they’re just miserable and their love only brings hardship. But in Miss Korea they both became happier when together and that was great. I also agree with your tenacity point and aw the picture of Hyung Joon smiling at the tv when Ji Young gets her crown just brought back all the feels. This scene was beautiful and I was crying when it happened.

    I also agree with your appreciation of the second OTP -I almost shipped them as much as I did the main OTP- and of the Vivi Team -although in the end the way they reacted to Teacher Jung’s feelings kinda rubbed me the wrong way… but mostly I liked them- and of course the family ! I thought it was nice to get an all-males family with a daughter, I don’t think I saw that a lot in Dramaland before, it was a nice change of dynamics.

    As for the characters -I’m following your post… told you, I don’t comment much so when I do it tends to be a bit awkward- I hadn’t really seen Lee Yeon Hee in anythng else before so to me Miss Korea was basically first impression and now I love her. And yes, Ji Young was a GREAT character. And btw, I thought Yoon was the weak link of the drama. He was an utter jerk but mostly I thought he was the only bland character as really he didn’t have that much of a character, he was just a plot device to make things go bad for the leads, he had no real point in my eyes, I think the drama would have been so much better without him. Also, thank you for reminding me of Ji Youngs response to Noble Idiocy ! Hyung Joon tries it two times and thank God someone stopped him both times, phew. And yes Ji Young’s answer WAS the best. Because she is the best.

    Okay I can’t go point by point or I’ll end up repeating what you said and it’d be too long and boring for yu to read. But I’m glad you chose the characters you chose, especially director Ma. In general I think Miss Korea is one of the dramas with the best female characters I’ve seen. It is no secret that in Kdramaland, women often get the short-end of the sticks. However I’d agree that Dramaland still offered us a lot of compelling female characters. That said, it is rare to find a drama with two good fully-developped female characters. To have three is a miracle and I’d argue that Miss Korea has three and even offered us nuanced secondary female characters. I loved how women were protrayed in that drama.

    About the weaknesses now, I’ll agree that sometimes the drama was slow but I don’t think it ever bothered me and -like you- I loved that they spent so much time after the contest. I was surprised that it ended « early » in the drama but felt it was the best decision the writer could made since it emphasized that the contest wasn’t a life solution nor the real point of the drama. I didn’t really feel the show lost dramatic tension towards the end but then again I didn’t watch for the dramatic tension, I think I just enjoyed being with those characters and watch them grow. As long as the show gave me that, I was happy. I do agree with your point about Kang Shik, Sun Young and Jae Hee though^^

    Basicallly I loved that drama. As in « really really loved ». I also really enjoyed reading your thoughts on it and think you brought up good points. Sorry about the long comment that doesn’t really go anywhere ^^’ Thanks for the post !!! ♥

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    • I am so sorry about all the mistakes ;A; Typos and grammar mistakes. Should have taken more time to check what I wrote. Sorry.

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      • Yay Mila, for your first comment on the blog! 😀 You weren’t kidding when you said you tend to go long! No complaints here, coz as you can tell, I struggle with brevity too! XD This is a conversation we would’ve totally struggled to have on Twitter! XD

        That’s really interesting, that you ended up preferring Miss Korea to YFAS! I loved YFAS unreservedly for its swoony crack factor, and I enjoyed this one for very different reasons. I guess because I didn’t watch either show live, my different responses to them never collided and they could happily co-exist in my mind as two very different shows.

        You’re so right that this drama managed to show us very convincingly why our OTP belonged together. There are shows where I’m left scratching my head, wondering just why I was supposed to root for the OTP in the first place! And this show managed to do it twice over, with Teacher Jung and Hwa Jung too. That was a tougher OTP to sell convincingly, I thought, and yet, I ended up rooting for them too. Kudos to the writers, and to the very natural and convincing deliveries from all the actors 🙂

        I hafta agree with you on Yoon being a bit of a weak link. I love Lee Ki Woo, and I really wanted to like him in this, but Yoon as a character always fell on the wrong side of dull for me. Plus, his calculative businessman side didn’t help endear him to me at all. I was so annoyed with him at various points in the show, for making things difficult for the Vivi guys. >.<

        Yes, we did get some very strong female characters in this show, and come to think of it, there's quite an irony there. Beauty pageants have traditionally been regarded as somewhat degrading to women, in a sense, especially with the swimsuit competition, which some might argue objectifies women. And yet, in a show where a beauty pageant is such a central focus, we get interesting and strong female characters. That's so awesome, really! 😀

        Also, no worries at all about typos and such – we all make them, after all! It's more important that we get enjoy chatting about dramas, so I'm really glad you enjoyed this review, and that you felt comfortable enough to finally leave a comment! ^^ Smooches!❤

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        • Hey again~

          Yeah, wasn’t kidding about the length… hence the frennemy relationship with twitter indeed… I don’t always leave comments that long but they’re never short either. And yeah okay, sometimes they’re even longer. Sky is the limit !

          I find it weird that I ended up enjoyng MK more than YFAS actually. Cause YFAS has more suspense so it should be the best drama to watch as it airs but somehow … I still really liked YFAS though. Loved the leads, the 2nd lead, and I totally swooned. But yeah I watched both at the same time and it seemed I looked more forward to one than the other in the end.

          Yep, writers did well on OTPs. And yes, some dramas, I just don’t know. There are two levels with OTPs I don’t get : level 1- I get why they like each other but not why I should root for them when clearly they make each other miserable and level 2 – I don’t even why they like each other. Thankfully both OTPs were on awesome levels ^^

          I also really wanted to like Yoon. Lee Ki Woo, though he’s not like « my biggest bias ever », is an actor I enjoy since I really liked him in Flower Boys Ramyun Shop and I was really happy he’d be in MK too. In the end however the charactr didn’t work for me. Well, he’ll get a better character next time hopefully^^ I haven’t heard any news on him since MK though…

          And yep, you got it right for the irony ! When I urged my friends to watch MK, they all said « meh, it’s gonna be superficial, bla bla bla objectified women, bla bla bla, damsel in distresses bla bla bla bitchy competitors, etc » and I must admit when I started watching the drama I was half-expecting all that -I started watching the drama on mistake actually- but yay for the nice surprise ! Those are the best~

          Hope yur next review comes soon~

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          • Well, let’s just say that you’re definitely not alone in leaving long comments on this blog! Maybe it’s to do with the length of my posts too, but if you poke around a little, you’ll probably notice that there are a good number of lengthy comments scattered across the blog, so you’re in good company! 😀

            In terms of OTP, the writing is so important, really. Coz if the writers want us to root for the OTP, we need a grasp of why they love each other, or why they belong together, other than “coz the script says so.” I find myself having that beef not just with OTPs, but with 2nd leads too. It’s partly why Seo Kang Joon didn’t click for me in Cunning Single Lady, coz I was never convinced of how he fell for Ae Ra in the first place.

            On a more relevant note, it’s one of the things that the writers do really well in MK. It’s probably partly coz they are so attentive in terms of character development – that really paid off coz character motivations are very clear for the most part, with the exception of Kang Shik, whom I never understood. But I totally got why Hyung Joon loved Ji Young, and why Ji Young loved him. And I could even get why Yoon had such a longstanding crush on Ji Young too.

            Speaking of Lee Ki Woo, he’s not a huge bias of mine either, but like you, I really enjoyed him in FBRS. And when I saw him pop up on my screen in MK, I was pretty excited too. Until I began to understand Yoon as a character more, and decided I didn’t really like him so much. It was also a bit weird for me to see Lee Ki Woo play someone who’s less than nice, coz he’s mostly played nice guys, and in my head, he’s totally a nice guy too! XD

            Yes, nice surprises are totally the best – so glad you stumbled on MK! 😀

            I’m on a semi-roll, reviews-wise. I don’t usually post reviews close together, and there’s usually a couple of weeks between reviews. Lately, though, I seem to be in a productive mode, since I’ve posted 3 reviews in the space of 10 days! I don’t think I can keep up the pace since I’ve got a work trip coming up that I need to prep for, but I will say that even as I type this, I’ve got another review that’s about halfway done. Which means it may not be too long till the next one goes up, after all 😉

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            • Yes long posts give way to long comments my blog too often gets really long comments. As long as it’s okay with you, then good. And, it has absolutely nothing to do with our conversation here but I’ll say it here -again-, because of you I started watching Pasta. I watched til ep4 and I’m so hooked. I so do NOT have the time to watch another drama OTL But I will anyway. Because, meh, was never a reasonnable person anyway -I’m wondering though how those goldfish are still alive… sure they have short-term memories but still, it’s stressful to have so little space and how come they never seem to poop nor get fed?-

              Back to the subject.

              Although I do not share your view on CSL’s 2nd lead, as you know, I do get what your problem was as I have it in many others. And I do agree that MK managed to show us why the OTP loved each other, same for 2nd OTP. And for Yoon. Anyway, who WOULDN’T fall in love with Ji Young ? I would. Actually I did. Anyway I don’t think I have much to add so I’ll just hope you keep rolling. I wonder what your next review will be about ! Maybe Secret Love Affair ? Think I saw you talk about it on twitter. Have a nice day/evening/night^^

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              • Yay that you’re loving Pasta, Mila!!! 😀 I LUFF THAT SHOW!! ❤ It’s cute, it’s light, it’s heartwarming; it’s just such an easy, endearing watch, seriously. HAHA I did wonder about the goldfish too. I mean, sure, they look nice in that wine glass, but isn’t it bordering on animal cruelty to keep them in that tiny little glass? 😛

                My review for SLA will have to wait till I’m done with my spurt of traveling that’s coming up. I really enjoyed the show, and even though I have many thoughts about it, it’s the sort of show that demands thoughtful treatment, and I just don’t have the time for that right now. My next review is on INR3, actually. A much easier show to digest and write about than SLA 🙂

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                • Yes I am very much enjoying Pasta! I’m at episode 8 now and it’s so nice and fun. There are some characters I don’t really like and I feel the editing team hates me sometimes -seriously what’s with the super fast cuts sometimes?- but the drama is very enjoyable and I love both lead actors so that’s a bonus~ And also No Min Woo is a nice pece of eye candy, enjoyed the surprise, didn’t know he would be in this. The goldfish haven’t been appearing these days, I hope they’re not dead … ys, it is bording on animal cruelty really! I felt bad for them. But anyway fish in that drama have a hard time in general. Poor them.

                  Oh and I’m glad your next review will be on INR3 cause I have seen this one! I don’t know if it’s easier to write about than SLA, -probably- but I still found it hard to write on. Whle watching t I wrote on it evevery week and did a final review too but it was very hard for me to reconcile the fact that I enjoyed it a lot while finding almost the characters terrible people. Each week I’d explain why they were driving me insane by being rude/cruel/selfiish/unlikeable/etc and each week I’d end up saying “anyway, looking foward to more of this”. It was torture. Anyway, can’t wait to readyour review^^

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                  • Oh~ I remember that I really enjoyed gazing at No Min Woo in Pasta! XD That was the first I’d ever seen of him, and I thought he was soo~ pretty! In fact, I don’t think he does much in the show except bring the pretty. But he does it so well that I have no complaints, Lol!

                    HAHA at your experience of INR3, Mila! XD I feel ya. There were definitely things that bothered me in that show, and yet I found enough to like in it to keep going to the very end. Review will be up by the end of the week, so we can compare notes in more detail then! ^^

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  3. Aaahhh…., Miss Korea. I was completely obsessed with it while it was airing but just could not get enough people to spazz over it with. Thank you for this lovely detailed review. I agree with everything you wrote, especially on how winning this OTP is. I can’t express in words like you can how much I appreciated this little drama. Certainly it was one of the best in 2014.

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    • Hey there KS! I’m so glad you enjoyed the review, and the show as well! 😀

      I hear you on not getting enough people to spazz with over the show.. this one is definitely way underrated. Especially among the live-watching crowd, I’m not surprised that the more buzzy YFAS captured everyone’s attention. And yes, isn’t the OTP completely charming and lovely? I loved so many things about them, and I’m so glad that they got to shine the way they did. ❤

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  4. I see that you have Pasta on your list of favorites. It is one of mine, too and if it remains your favorite I definitely would enjoy reading your review if you decide to write one in the future. Since the team behind Miss Korea and Pasta is one and the same, there are many elements that are similar. One of them for me is how human the characters are, as in, they react to each other like most sane people would. They talk and remain generally civil with each other. The main lovers are mature, actually talking and smiling to each other; no nervousness is necessary. Lee Sun Kyun is so good with anyone he is paired with but I o dwish I see him more on my screen.

    But while I enjoy Pasta with its breezy-cheery tone, I also love Miss Korea for its darkish, moodier atmosphere. There is an instrumental piece in MK that comes on almost in every somber scene that just perfectly enhances the mood. The use of English songs to give clues to certain situations is also very well done and often times to hilarious effect. And of course the original soundtracks are one of the best I’ve heard.

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    • Oh, I still do love Pasta! 😀 You’re so right, it’s the characters that make it such a lovely watch. I loved it so much, in fact, that when I got to the end, I went right back to E1 to start over! XD Lee Sun Gyun is FABULOUS in it, and I so, so loved the scene where he declared his love for her. His eyes said SO MUCH even when he didn’t say a lot. In terms of a review.. I have good intentions, but the likelihood at this point is sorta low, I’m afraid. My backlog of reviews for current shows keeps growing, and so the older ones keep getting pushed back. With the exception of older shows that I’ve recently watched and are fresh on my mind, that is. I won’t say never, so it’s still a possibility, even though it’s a vague one at this point!

      Yes, the music is one of the highlights of MK.. It’s not my favorite OST of all time, but I did enjoy it nicely. 🙂 As for the instrumental piece, might you be talking about this one?

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      • Thank you for the link to the music, but that is not the one I was talking about. It’s instrumental, but not an instrumental version of a song, at least I don’t think so. It comes on a lot during Lee Sung Min’s scenes, especially when he is being bullied by his gangster boss. It’s mournful and perfect for the various pathetic situations it complements. I have no idea what it is but I love it in that context.

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        • Oh oh, could it be this one, KS? 🙂

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          • Now how in the world did you find that? Yes, this is the one I was talking about. Thank you, thank you!! I can’t believe I love it as much out of context.

            Are you up for another challenge? I am not sure if this was ever released, but I would also love a link to the instrumental version of New World, the one used in episode 15, when the baddies were beating up the Vivi guys. No pressure though.

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            • Hee! I’m so glad that I got the right track for you, KS! 😀

              Unfortunately, the instrumental version of New World wasn’t released with the OST, so I don’t have a link for you this time. Sorry to disappoint! 😛 I guess one out of two ain’t bad?

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      • This is my first comment on your blog, and let me just say I really enjoy reading your reviews! And, apologies for just butting in on this thread…I had great expectations for “Miss Korea” bc it was the same team that did “Pasta”, and since I was – err still is – a HUGE fan of “Pasta”, I was so excited that Lee SunKyun was playing lead again! However, I must admit wasn’t a huge fan of “Miss Korea” for a multitude of reasons which i won’t go into here. BUT! the reason I am butting in this convo is that I would love to read a review on “Pasta” from you and your blog. This site is so fab and altho I’m still brand spankin’ new to it, I know you’re gonna give it an awesomely level-headed yet also emotional review of one of my all time faves! Here’s hoping you’ll get to it someday soon❤️ but until then, keep up the great work!!

        ps: just read ur reviews on “Fated to Love You” and “It’s Okay, That’s Love”, and since I just finished watching both dramas, (I know, a little slow on the uptake **aaargh), I was so excited to read your eloquent reviews!

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        • pss: LOVE Jang Hyuk❤️ what an amazing actor, and so easy on the eyes…he is gonna be my new man crush for years to come with that delish eyes and bod! LAWDHAVMERCY!! lol sorry – I’m all googoo gaga over that man…

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        • Hi there lily! Welcome to the blog!! 😀 Always a pleasure to meet a fellow drama fan! No worries about interjecting on a thread – it happens a fair bit and no one around here seems to mind ^^

          Sorry to hear Miss Korea didn’t work for ya.. It was a slow burn for me, but I did end up enjoying this one quite nicely. 🙂 As for the Pasta review.. thanks for adding your enthusiasm to the mix! It’s always really encouraging to know that people appreciate and look forward to the reviews! 🙂 Thanks for brightening up my day with that. ❤ I still have good intentions around reviewing older shows, but my backlog of more recent shows seems to grow all the time. 😛 I plan to write a little more in the next little while to try to clear my backlog of drafts, and then maybe I can start to think about writing reviews for older shows. Long story short, I'll try, but I can't make any promises right now. 🙂

          I absolutely lurve Jang Hyuk too – he's is one sexay man. ❤ Have you had a chance to check out my k-love post for him? If not, you can take a lookie here. And do remember to check out the Iris 2 deleted scene which I give instructions about at the end of the post. It's melt-your-knees sexy, seriously! *spazz*

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          • Thx for your response Kfangurl!! Yes, I went and read both your Jang Hyuk post AND Gong Yoo posts…I’m a relatively new fan of Jang Hyuks, so your k-love post on him and all his past works was like dessert to my eyes❤︎ In fact I’m downloading “Tree with Deep Roots” now as I’m writing this ;)) and all the yummy picts of him….yes! Thank you, just thank you!! lol Gong Yoo is also another fav of mine as is Lee SunKyun. I find that these 3 guys does it for me acting-wise. They just always score, even if the drama itself isn’t as amusing.

            I’m about to go comment on ur Gong Yoo k-love post now❤︎

            Thx again for responding and looking forward to ur future posts as well!

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            • Ah! Glad that you’re enjoying the k-love posts!! And yay that you’re downloading Tree, lily!! It’s an excellent watch, and very illuminating, in terms of how Hangul was created. Jang Hyuk is wonderfully intense in it, and his martial arts background is put to good use as well. 😉 I’d love to hear how you like Tree, when you’re done watching it.

              Oh yes, I do enjoy Lee Sun Kyun as well – I think my favorite role of his is as Chef in Pasta. He’s too shouty at times, but at other times, he’s quite swoony, and I definitely dig swoony. 😉

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  5. imo this drama is a little gem. you’ve already highlighted the acting, writing and feel of the drama so there’s no point in repeating any of it. in contrast to you though, i’ve thouroughly enjoyed the slow pacing … simply because it allowes the viewer to digest/enjoy the seen images/scenes better/longer, thus giving meaning to every little detail. without that slow pacing many details would have been lost or rendered forgettable. it’s much more real-life-like were (often) some moments seem to last an eternity and usually it’s those moments we remember/treasure later on. an alternative is usually slow-motion, another one would be to repeat the scene a couple of times … but the director imho wisely choose to ignore all that and instead opt for a slow pace, thus turning many usually “normal” moments into key moments wich feelt very real (thnik of Ji Young opening the little box with chewing gums, or why not, the flashback on the bus where Hyung Joon show Ji Young that he also knows the meaning of “그냥” 😀 ).

    another thing i personally liked a lot was the fact that all characters actually communicate troughout the entire drama … with words (as far as i know, there’s no human capable of reading minds and speaking wasn’t “invented” for no reason). what’s more, the actors and the director also showed it to us (very few pokerfaces in this drama, we see alot of both characters faces in dialogues). thus, even if it was a nonverbal communication, it felt real (think of Teacher Jung’s character who isn’t a “master of words” yet manages to transmit a whole lot).

    to sum it up: i wouldn’t have minded if this drama would have been much longer … or, to put it the “let’s eat” way 😉 : sweets are always a nice treat, but i’d rather have all those daily “ordinary” meals.

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    • I’m so glad you ended up enjoying Miss Korea, INTJ!! 😀 It really IS a little gem, isn’t it?? 🙂

      You’ve got a great point about the slow pace.. It does help to bring out all the little details. I guess I must’ve just been in a more impatient mood than the drama demanded. Thankfully, that didn’t stop me from finishing the show and appreciating many of its positive traits!

      Yes, I get what you mean about not minding if the drama was longer! I think that’s the same vibe that reminded me of family dramas, where you watch the characters go about their daily lives in a more mundane way, but it’s just so enjoyable to watch all the same. Speaking of family dramas, have you by any chance watched Life is Beautiful, INTJ?? I LOVE that show, and it’s one of the best family dramas I’ve seen, period. If you enjoyed the slice-of-life vibe of Miss Korea, I’m thinking you’d enjoy Life is Beautiful too 🙂 It’s one of those shows that I intend to watch again, just for the lovely feels it gives me. ❤

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      • oh, i really enjoyed a lot and i’ll rewatch it for sure! for me it was like a short vacation in a foreign land, getting to know a few locals, sharing bits of their life and thus being nicely reminded how similar, yet different, we all are … all because the slow pace and the many small details.

        no, i haven’t seen “Life is beautiful” yet because it has 63 episodes and i’d need at leat 3 days without having work … something that’s very-very rare for me. based on your recommandation i’ll probably watch it in september when i’ve finally managed to schedule a full week just for my hobbies. thank you! 🙂

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        • Wow, so you’re a drama marathoner, INTJ! I’d find it hard too, if I was trying to finish 63 episodes of drama in a single stretch! I watched it as a lovely drama nightcap over several weeks. Every night, before bed, I’d watch an episode or part of an episode. And the world in Life is Beautiful is so warm and inviting that it’s just a very lovely way to unwind before bed. You could perhaps consider a similar approach, so that it doesn’t require the logistical feat of clearing your schedule for a week! ^^

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  6. Pingback: Year In Review: 2014 | The Fangirl Verdict

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