The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: She Was Pretty

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

A fun rom-com that, in-between the comedy and the laughs, manages to get under your skin in the best way, with its warmth.

Some of my favorite things about She Was Pretty are the heartfelt performances, the lovingly-drawn characters, and the relationships brimming with organic, sparky chemistry. On top of these, the breezy pace and the ear-wormy OST – not to mention the uplifting themes of self-worth and self-love – make this a satisfying, enjoyable watch indeed.

Not perfect by a long shot, but Show gets the important things so right, that it’s hard to be nit-picky.

She Was Pretty OST – 쿵쿵쿵

THE LONG VERDICT:

In a manner of speaking, She Was Pretty is kinda like the unassuming little cafe on the corner that doesn’t look all that different from all the other cafes in the area, really. But when you step in, you find that the atmosphere is so cozy, you’re greeted so warmly, and the food is such simple, good, honest nosh, that you can’t help but want to come back again – and yet again.

Writer-nim does manage to serve up a surprise or two, but by and large, the plot points and narrative devices are obviously cut from pretty much the same cloth as many other rom-coms before it. If you’ve been in dramaland for a while, you’d likely be able to predict many of this show’s plot developments – fillers included – with a relatively high degree of accuracy.

Still, Show is put together so lovingly, and feels so heartfelt, that it’s gratifying to watch anyway. As a bonus, everything is very prettily shot. Clearly, a good amount of tender care was taken, from the overall composition of shots, to selection of the very lovely color palette, to the excellent application of the OST.

In spite of its flaws, I must admit that this show wasted no time in worming its way into my heart, and now that it’s over, I’m sincerely reluctant to let it go.

STUFF THAT REQUIRES SOME LENS ADJUSTMENT

Although I enjoyed Show right from the beginning, there were definitely a couple of things that I needed to adjust my viewing lens for. Here’s the quick list.

1. Sung Joon is too mean

This one was a biggie, for me. I love Park Seo Joon, and found it hard to stomach his character being so unreasonable and mean to his colleagues – including our female lead – in the earlier episodes of the show.

Despite Show’s efforts to mitigate Sung Joon’s meanness with glimmers of softness and spots of clumsy, the explanations for his meanness didn’t ring true enough for me. I felt that his meanness was excessive, and it made me cringe, particularly when that meanness was turned on our female lead Hye Jin (Hwang Jung Eum). I felt that it made Hye Jin come across as quite pathetic in general, because his words cut her so deeply.

For a good chunk of Show’s early stretch, I just wasn’t feeling its treatment of Sung Joon’s character.

2. The exaggerated campy funny

The Funny in this show, as is often the case in kdramas, leans heavily on the side of campy. The comic arcs are almost always amplified and far from subtle. Coupled with Hwang Jung Eum’s gung-ho, all-in, almost manic delivery, it sometimes felt a bit trying to watch.

On the upside, most of Hye Jin’s odd ticks are written in as part of her character, so it’s (mostly) narratively cohesive. Another upside is that on the occasions when it all felt a bit much, those moments didn’t tend to last very long.

3. Logic gets stretched

On several occasions, in order to get our characters to behave in certain ways, or to get our narrative to a certain place, logic tends to get stretched, requiring a touch more suspension of disbelief than usual.

[SPOILER ALERT]

A small-ish example is in episode 6, where we see Hye Jin literally sneezing all over everyone at the office. As I watched the scene, I knew that writer-nim basically needed a reason for both Shin Hyuk and Sung Joon to pay attention to her, in their own ways. But, I did feel that the whole thing made no sense. I mean, how clueless can someone be, to blithely sneeze on all her colleagues? And how clueless can those colleagues be, to let their response simply be to cringe and avoid her as much as possible. Seriously, someone should’ve just handed her a mask and that would’ve solved it.

Another example is how Shin Hyuk’s Big Reveal as Ten is handled in episodes 14 & 15. Yes, the entire arc tugged at my heartstrings in a very real way. But I did wonder why it had to be all or nothing. I mean, originally, the intention was only to have an interview with Ten, not to reveal Ten’s identity. Which means that they could’ve published an interview exploring Ten’s personal thoughts, without revealing his identity, and then Shin Hyuk wouldn’t have had to leave. In fact, the Most team wouldn’t even need to know it’s Shin Hyuk. It could’ve been his little secret with Sung Joon.

[END SPOILER]

In both cases, it’s clear that writer-nim just needed our plot to move in a particular direction. It’s a pity that more organic-feeling plot points weren’t used, but shrugging off the weaknesses in the logic allowed me to enjoy the good things that Show did have to offer, and to Show’s credit, there was quite a lot to like.

CHARACTERS

One of my favorite things in this show, is how our key characters all feel relatable and real, in spite of some minor flaws in characterization. On top of that, all 4 actors deliver such heartfelt performances that I couldn’t help growing to love their characters like they were real, living, breathing people.

Hwang Jung Eum as Kim Hye Jin

I must say that despite Hye Jin’s OTT tendencies, I really enjoyed Hwang Jung Eum in this role.

Even though Hye Jin’s OTT behavior could’ve made her more of a caricature than an actual character, she’s ultimately delivered as a relatable character with depth. Kudos to writer-nim for allowing the character that kind of breathing space, and to Hwang Jung Eum for bringing Hye Jin to life.

I found Hye Jin a likable, rather admirable character. A strong girl who’s not easily daunted, she’s been served a rather disappointing lot, in that her family went bankrupt, and her ugly genes came out, and she’s been jobless for years, but she doesn’t allow it to keep her down, even though there are moments where it gets her down.

There’s a layer of poignancy to Hye Jin that I really appreciate; a layer that we catch glimpses of, when she encounters a moment that stings. There’s often a bit of a pause, before she perks back up. That moment, is where we see Hye Jin willing herself to put her best cheery face forward, to face the world. I love those moments that hint at the hurt beneath her cheery surface, because they give her character a dimension and depth that make her feel real.

With that sense of Hye Jin’s inner pathos in place, it’s easy to like her, and root for her, and want good things for her. And that’s how I felt about Hye Jin, all series long.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Although it’s arguable that Hye Jin seemed a little too good to be true, I found her believable because Show made us privy to her private sadness. In those moments, her surface bravado and strength melt away, and we get to see her insecurities around her self-worth. That’s something so universal that I found her relatable right away.

One of my favorite Hye Jin moments in the show, is in episode 10, when Hye Jin chooses to give Ha Ri (Go Joon Hee) the benefit of the doubt and trust her, that Ha Ri must’ve had a good reason for pretending to be Hye Jin in front of Sung Joon. I love that moment because Hye Jin isn’t being stupid in trusting Ha Ri. She’s choosing to exercise grace and faith instead, and I find that admirable indeed.

I genuinely love the way Hye Jin loves Ha Ri. In episode 11, when Hye Jin holds back from going to Sung Joon’s waiting arms, it does appear to smack of noble idiocy for a while. I loved that the truth was that Hye Jin feels badly for Ha Ri’s broken heart and disappointment, and wouldn’t feel comfortable with herself, if she allowed herself to be close to Sung Joon.

In that sense, it was never about giving way to Ha Ri and letting Ha Ri be with Sung Joon and giving him away like a toy. It was always more about being sensitive to how her BFF felt, and I appreciate that sensitivity and care about Hye Jin a whole lot.

[END SPOILER]

Park Seo Joon as Ji Sung Joon

I hafta say, in spite of Show’s misstep in making Early Sung Joon overly mean, and even though I feel like Sung Joon’s character could’ve benefited from a deeper, more detailed characterization, I really enjoyed Park Seo Joon in this role. (Have I mentioned that I love Park Seo Joon?)

To me, this is a case of Park Seo Joon’s nuanced delivery and natural onscreen warmth making up for weaknesses in the writing.

In the earlier episodes where Sung Joon is portrayed as being unfeeling and mean, even at Sung Joon’s most caustic, Park Seo Joon’s personal warmth helps to take the edge off Sung Joon’s mean behavior.

In the mid to late episodes, Park Seo Joon makes Sung Joon’s turnaround feel real and natural. We start to see Sung Joon coming to care for Hye Jin, almost against his own will. I love that dynamic, where we see Sung Joon practically fight himself, to try to reconcile what he knows in his head, with what he feels in his heart. Park Seo Joon manages to make it all quite amusing, yet at the same time, very sincere and heartfelt. Love.

Of course, Show didn’t fail to remind us that shirtless Park Seo Joon is extra hot (as if we needed reminding, right? But, not gonna complain!), as evidenced by this prolonged broody shower scene in episode 6:

Rawr. YUM. MOAR PLEASE.

In spite of the knee-buckling pretty (which I thoroughly enjoyed), and the wonderful onscreen warmth (which I eagerly soaked up), I maintain that Park Seo Joon shone most when he was given the chance to show off his acting range.

[SPOILER ALERT]

In episode 11, when Sung Joon finally realizes that Hye Jin is his Hye Jin, we get to witness Sung Joon’s entire spectrum of emotions, from shock, to realization, to grief, to self-blame, to confusion, to warm gratefulness. It’s just such a pleasure to watch.

Another scene where I particularly appreciated Park Seo Joon’s delivery, is this scene in episode 13.

This scene in the car park, when, as things fall apart around him, Sung Joon wells up with tears, and takes a moment, before sinking into Hye Jin’s arms, is so poignant and heartfelt.

I love her for being strong for him, and I love him for allowing himself to release some of that burden. And I love how Park Seo Joon delivers all of that, with, quite visibly, every fiber of his being. Wow.

[END SPOILER]

She Was Pretty OST – 너뿐이야

Choi Si Won as Kim Shin Hyuk

One of the biggest surprises in this drama, for me, is just how wonderful Choi Si Won is, as Shin Hyuk.

I mean, I’d enjoyed him on my screen before (he was so funny in King of Dramas!), but he completely surpassed my expectations in this show, and basically clean blew me away, leaving me somewhat slack-jawed in the wake of the awesome. I kid you not.

Let me try to break down the components of awesome.

Edit: And here’s some extended Si Won awesome for ya, if you’re up for it. Si Won Pure Pretty post is here!

1. He’s hilariously hammy

Practically from beginning to end, Si Won is fabulously outrageous as Shin Hyuk, giving Shin Hyuk the widest, most elastic range of unabashedly flamboyant expressions. He makes Shin Hyuk really weird, and yet, also really likable. And he makes it all seem completely effortless too.

Check out this sampling of Shin Hyuk’s range of quirky expressions – dontcha just love how Si Won displays absolutely no vanity in contorting his face for the camera?

Hur hur. He just never seemed to run out of ridiculous expressions, which cracked me up So Much.

2. He’s so many shades of handsome

On a shallow note, Si Won is quite glorious to look at, and Show knows it.

I really rather liked the five o’clock shadow on him, which deepens over the episodes to take on shades of pirate, which I also thought pretty cool. Si Won wears the scruff well, is all I can say.

Additionally, Show thoughtfully also put Si Won’s glorious choco abs on display in episode 12, like so:

Mmm. Such lovely, clean-lined sculptedness, paired with that devil-may-care scruff. Delish.

I got so used to the scruff, that I honestly completely forgot that Si Won looks fabulous clean-shaven too. Which is why I literally did a double-take when, in a later episode, he showed up on my screen looking like this:

Woah. So. Handsome. Combined with the gentle sunlight on his face, and that Look in his eyes, he’s so beautiful it’s surreal.

Swoon.

3. He delivers with so much emotional resonance

As great as the first 2 points are, this is the one that blew me away.

Shin Hyuk starts out as a rather funny, almost clowny sort of character, but as we get deeper in the show, Shin Hyuk begins to show more and more shades of emotional depth and pathos.

Si Won delivers the different layers masterfully, and it’s all the more impressive because there are many times when those contrasting layers – surface silly belying private pain – are at play at the same time. Best of all, it all feels so real. I could easily believe that this wasn’t Si Won in character, but Shin Hyuk living out a partial truth while concealing his heartache. So, SO. GOOD.

[SPOILER ALERT]

In many lesser rom-coms, we don’t actually have a good sense of why the second male lead likes the female lead (or why any of the leads like each other, for that matter). Credit to writer-nim for building meaning into Shin Hyuk’s affection for Hye Jin, and to Si Won, for delivering with such depth and sincerity that I felt like I completely got why Shin Hyuk liked Hye Jin.

As a character, I love Shin Hyuk for seeing the pretty in Hye Jin, without any need for her to wear makeup or get a makeover. In the midst of her weirdness and the lack of style, he sees and appreciates the pretty. Swoon.

I love, too, that Shin Hyuk is the kind of guy who thinks Hye Jin is pretty just the way she is, and isn’t at all affected by Ha Ri’s beauty. He’s completely nonchalant in front of Ha Ri when most guys are falling over themselves for her. Outward pretty doesn’t do much for him, which, double swoon.

Seriously, I love Shin Hyuk so much, for the way he mourns the disappearance of Hye Jin’s freckles in episode 9. I mean, just the fact that he loves the freckles because they’re part of what make her, her, is such heart-melty stuff.

As we get deeper into the show, Si Won ups his game by imbuing Shin Hyuk with more and more emotional resonance. Layered on top of already endearing qualities, Shin Hyuk quickly and effectively stole my heart.

Yes, the fact that Shin Hyuk lets Hye Jin go, and even takes her to Sung Joon himself, is nothing new in second-lead territory. But the way Si Won plays it – stoic on the surface, but with glimmers of quiet sadness beneath – completely tugs at my heartstrings.

It’s at this point, that we begin to see and understand that at least a big chunk of Shin Hyuk’s flamboyance is there to mask the sadness and pain that he keeps private. It’s also right about this point, that my heart goes out to him, more than ever.

In episodes 14 and 15, when Shin Hyuk goes about saying goodbye to Hye Jin and the other people at Most, is when he moved me the most.

In episode 14, Shin Hyuk’s goodbye date with Hye Jin is OTT silly while he’s out and about with her, but then when the tears sheen in his eyes as he says goodbye, and then when he broods sadly and the tears leak out as he drives away, he grounds it completely. It’s so clear, that there is real emotion there, behind the jokes and pranks. There’s so much that’s left unspoken, and yet at the same time, there’s so much that still leaks out, in Shin Hyuk’s quiet moments alone.

Oof. Shin Hyuk’s quiet tears brought tears to my eyes.

In episode 15, I found Shin Hyuk’s goodbyes poignant and touching, and I love that he gives everyone a personal goodbye. Even more, I love that he gave Hye Jin a private goodbye that remained privy to only her. There are no colleagues listening in, and even we as the audience don’t get to hear it until much later, in flashback. I love the quiet, matter-of-fact, almost casual moment of seclusion that his whispered goodbye creates for them. It makes his goodbye to Hye Jin feel extra special.

I love the way Shin Hyuk pulls Hye Jin in for that quiet, long hug, then softly whispers his parting words. It’s so simple and so heartbreaking at the same time. And the poignance with which Siwon delivers is So Good. Shin Hyuk’s gaze and entire air about him, as he hugs Hye Jin and holds her for a long time, is mesmerizing, full of feeling, and so full of tenderness. It’s like he’s allowing all of the things that he can’t say to her, to seep slowly into her as he holds her.

Augh. This parting scene filled my heart and broke it, all at the same time. Chills.

[END SPOILER]

Go Joon Hee as Min Ha Ri

I really, really appreciate Show for giving us a second female lead who’s not clingy or manipulative. Instead, Ha Ri possesses dimension and remains believable and interesting as a character, in spite of her flawed decisions.

I believed that she genuinely loves Hye Jin as a friend, and that she truly felt conflicted about her own actions and knew that she was behaving badly. Even at her worst, when I couldn’t condone her behavior, I felt like I could understand her.

Credit to writer-nim for making Ha Ri a faceted character worth rooting for, and to Go Joon Hee for making Ha Ri relatable through it all.

[SPOILER ALERT]

We can practically see Ha Ri’s arc with Sung Joon rise up to meet us; as second lead, she’s pretty much destined to fall for Sung Joon. At the same time, I really appreciate writer-nim for making it clear that Ha Ri never is malicious.

Instead, we can clearly see that her deception was the product of procrastination and situational factors, which resulted in her sinking deeper and deeper into her lie. In that way, I liked that Ha Ri’s journey into the deep, and then back into the light, is a universally relatable one that we can all empathize with, at least a little bit.

In episode 6, I felt that Ha Ri totally crossed the line, in offering up the missing puzzle piece to Sung Joon. It’s terrible behavior, absolutely, but at the same time, I get that a person can act in very stupid ways and make decisions that completely undervalue and overvalue all the wrong things, when deeply infatuated with someone. In that sense, I got Ha Ri.

I also appreciated Ha Ri’s stomach pains in episode 9, in that it shows how much her bad decision-making is actually stressing her out.

The arc in episode 10, when Ha Ri’s deception is found out by Sung Joon, is also another universally human thing. We’ve all had moments when we’ve hesitated, only to regret the hesitation. I do give Ha Ri credit for consistently plucking up the courage to do the right thing. Even though she misses her chance to confess her deception to Sung Joon, she makes sure to apologize properly to both Hye Jin and Sung Joon.

Ha Ri’s determination to do the right thing going forward, in spite of the mistakes of her past, is something that I think we can all identify with. We’ve all made mistakes and lived to regret them. What’s more important than regret, though, is choosing to live right and live different, going forward. And that’s exactly what Ha Ri does.

I love that when she realizes that she hasn’t been true to herself all this time, that she promptly applies herself – fully and properly – to starting over. Ha Ri’s earnestness and commitment towards turning her life around, and finding & pursuing her passion, made me root for her, so much.

[END SPOILER]

RELATIONSHIPS

This show sets itself apart from many of its cousins, by having not just one, but several meaningful relationships. I love that even though our story is romance-centric, that friendship also takes centerstage and gets a good solid chunk of screentime.

Even better, our key characters share an excellent amount of chemistry, almost any way you slice it. That’s a wonderful and rare thing indeed, in dramaland.

Hye Jin  & Ha Ri

I love-love-love these two besties together. Particularly in a drama landscape where we don’t tend to see many strong female friendships, the lifelong, lovingly affectionate bond between Hye Jin and Ha Ri is definitely one for the record books. To me, they are the other OTP of this show.

It makes me smile to see just how happy Ha Ri and Hye Jin are, when they are together. It feels like they complete each other, and I love that they enjoy being together this much.

I also really appreciate how these two care enough about each other, and are secure enough in their friendship, to each challenge the other’s choices when they see a need. [MINOR SPOILER] I love how, in an early episode, when Hye Jin runs into difficulties fitting in at Most, Ha Ri chooses not to indulge Hye Jin’s whining, but challenges her to actually work hard to overcome her difficulties instead. SO much more useful than simply commiserating with Hye Jin. [END SPOILER]

I’m so glad (and relieved, actually) that despite some momentary missteps, the friendship and love between these two never does get compromised because of a boy.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Much as I loved being a fly on their wall as I watched their happy interactions with a big goofy grin on my face, it was their tearful times that truly stick with me.

In episode 12, when Hye Jin rushes to the airport thinking that Ha Ri has upped and left for good, I loved their reunion scene, so much.

The way Hye Jin cries and clings to Ha Ri totally made me tear up. Even when Ha Ri says she isn’t going away, Hye Jin continues to cling to her, like a child who can’t quite believe that the one thing she wants in the world is right there in her arms.

In a drama landscape where characters are more often shown doing things together rather than talking, I deeply appreciated that Show takes its time with Ha Ri’s apology to Hye Jin. I love that they talk it out properly.

I love that Ha Ri gets to apologize properly and specifically for how she’d wronged Hye Jin. Most of all, I love that it’s so tearful and heartfelt on both sides; on Ha Ri’s part as she offers it, and on Hye Jin’s part as she receives it. Ahh. So lovely.

Once things are set right between them, I love how full-on they are, as they proceed to love each other. Instead of allowing Ha Ri’s period of deception to drive a wedge between them and dilute their friendship, they choose to refresh their friendship and love each other more fiercely than before. There’s just something about that choice that moves me. It’s such a release for both of them, once the deception is talked over and straightened out, that it feels like they’re each pouring out in double or triple measure, all the love that they’d felt inhibited from giving each other, while their friendship had been cramped. Such a pleasure to see them love each other freely all over again.

I liked that Ha Ri is the one who practically shakes Hye Jin and helps her along towards her way to Sung Joon. Because Hye Jin hesitated in order to be sensitive to her bestie, it’s only Ha Ri herself, who can convince Hye Jin that going to Sung Joon is not only ok, but is going to help Ha Ri feel better about herself.

Even when change comes knocking, and both Hye Jin and Ha Ri need to move forward from their cozy arrangement of living together, I love that their friendship continues to grow and flourish. In episode 15, Hye Jin and Ha Ri tearfully cheer each other on in finding and pursuing their passions, even if it means not living together and not seeing each other as often. Their wistful, loving tears, as they hug it out, moved me deeply.

I simply love how they love each other. I love how they both dearly want to see the other person fulfilled, successful and happy. Ultimately, after all is said and done, they love each other with a selfless kind of love. And I dig that, very much.

[END SPOILER]

She Was Pretty OST – 모르나봐

Hye Jin & Sung Joon

In the grand scheme of things, I wouldn’t say that Sung Joon and Hye Jin are the most exciting OTP in dramaland, but I thoroughly enjoyed them anyway.

Park Seo Joon and Hwang Jung Eum share a comfortable synergy that I appreciated very much. It’s clear to see, that they’re very much at ease with each other, and unafraid to share screentime – and skinship – as needed. Which made their shared scenes quite a pleasure to watch.

As our OTP, I love the focused and steadfast way Sung Joon and Hye Jin love each other; I love the warmth and friendship that is the foundation of their romance; I love how healthy their relationship is, for the most part. In a drama landscape littered with noble idiots and man-handling boyfriends, I found the supportive, understanding dynamic between Sung Joon and Hye Jin very refreshing indeed.

The set-up is a little cliched, in that it’s nothing new in dramaland. Hye Jin’s identity as Sung Joon’s childhood first love, is unknown to Sung Joon for a good stretch, but they find their connection anyway. In its essence, it sort of reminds me of 2004’s Save Your Last Dance For Me, where a similar set-up challenged the OTP.

Still, I like the concept a lot more than Hallyu’s oft-used First Love trope, where the OTP belongs together simply because they were first loves. Here, I really enjoyed watching Sung Joon and Hye Jin find meaningful ways to connect, outside of the context of their past friendship. I love the idea that they complement each other so well, that even when their shared history isn’t part of the equation, Sung Joon would choose her anyway.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I seriously love that in this drama world, characters show their care by each pushing the other to be their best. We see it with Ha Ri and Hye Jin, and we also see it with Sung Joon and Hye Jin.

In episode 9, when Sung Joon’s already awkwardly trying to come to terms with his growing affection for Hye Jin, I really liked how Sung Joon gives Hye Jin the indirect pep talk she needs, to be bold enough to take on the writing assignment. It just warms my heart, that Sung Joon’s intervention – talking to her about the god of opportunity (Caerus) – is about her reaching her full potential, and has nothing to do with himself.

Afterwards, upon Hye Jin accepting the assignment, I love that little hair-pulling signal moment they share, through the glass walls of his office. It makes sense only to them, which makes it so endearingly cool.

As Sung Joon and Hye Jin find their way to romance, there are moments that I loved, and there were also stretches that I didn’t like so much.

One moment that I loved, is the scene in episode 9, when Sung Joon tears through traffic and rain in his car, crazy with worry over Hye Jin. His focus while driving in the rain is so wholly on Hye Jin, that his tendency to freeze up in the rain doesn’t even factor in, he’s so focused. And when he finds her, that hug that he pulls her into, is so full of grateful, almost tearful relief.

Love it.

On the downside, while I understood Hye Jin’s extreme skittishness around Sung Joon as their feelings grew for each other, I really didn’t find it funny. I also felt that Hye Jin’s OTT hypersensitivity to Sung Joon disappeared quite suddenly. I mean, I wanted it to go away, but Show didn’t create a believable transition for it, and as a result, it felt sudden and unexplained and random.

The silver lining was that, while Hye Jin is being self-consciously skittish, Sung Joon totally homes in on how he feels about her. I just find that focused intensity very melty indeed.

Also, once that shift was over and done with, I found so much to enjoy about our OTP.

In episode 12, Hye Jin finally plucks up the courage to go to Sung Joon at the hospital. As she hovers over an apparently sleeping Sung Joon, he suddenly grasps her wrist and pulls her into bed next to him. Sure, it’s completely unrealistic that Sung Joon would pull someone into the bed with him without knowing who it was, but I did very much appreciate the subdued, gentle vibe of the moment.

Somehow, it seems fitting that this OTP, in finally coming together, would do so without sparks and fireworks, but with quiet gentleness and tenderness.

I particularly love how Sung Joon seems so at home with Hye Jin. In an environment where he’s almost always tensed up and on guard, it’s really lovely to see him be able to be himself around her; relaxed, at peace, and at rest.

One thing I love about this OTP being together, is how Sung Joon starts to leak smiles all the time. Park Seo Joon’s warm, crinkly smile slays me, and he makes in-love Sung Joon adorable. It’s cute how Sung Joon thinks Hye Jin is adorable and regularly melts to himself after teasing her. And I love that Sung Joon smiles a lot, because of Hye Jin.

Augh. That adorable face. Melt.

Despite warmth and cuteness being the mainstay of this relationship, what a bonus it is, that this OTP does share sparky, sexy chemistry when the occasion calls for it. There’s no other word to describe it; the kiss in episode 15 is hawt.

The way Sung Joon pulls her in once he realizes what she’s saying, and the way he leans in to kiss her – it’s so focused, intent, and very tender.

Swoon. Flail. Puddle. This kiss legit gave me tummy twists.

What a treat, really, to have an OTP that feels equally real and believable, no matter the circumstance. I genuinely loved watching these two together.

[END SPOILER]

Hye Jin & Shin Hyuk

While Shin Hyuk’s one-sided love for Hye Jin tugged at my heartstrings, I hafta say that I never wanted their connection to actually turn romantic. I loved their weird friendship too much.

I really love how these two weirdos ended up being friends. I found it so endearing, that Shin Hyuk always wanted to hang out with Hye Jin, even when everyone else found her awkward and odd. I felt like they were weird twins. I found them exceedingly amusing together, and wanted them to be weird friends who embrace each other’s weirdness, and amp up their total quotient of weird in the best way.

[SPOILER ALERT] Ultimately, I’m actually content with where they land, in their friendship. I love that even when Shin Hyuk strips away the lens of romantic love, that he genuinely likes Hye Jin as a person and tells her so. It makes their connection feel so pure, somehow. [END SPOILER]

Special shout-out to:

Sung Joon & Shin Hyuk

Even though theirs is a minor sort of arc, I was very amused by the reluctant bromance between Shin Hyuk and Sung Joon.

I love how Shin Hyuk delights in Sung Joon’s obvious discomfort, even as Shin Hyuk continually ribs Sung Joon, while threatening him with bromance and stealing his underwear. I could watch their antics all day long. Hee.

Han Seol & Joon Woo

Another minor arc that caught my fancy is the romance between Seol (Shin Hye Sun) and Joon Woo (Park Yoo Hwan). I thought they were very cute together, and perked up whenever we got a little screen time showing their growing relationship.

That, and I find Park Yoo Hwan exceedingly adorable. I think I might find him cuter than hyung Yoo Chun, even. I seriously just wanna squish him and put him in my pocket.

THEMES

Throughout its run, Show asks the questions, What is beauty? Should it matter? And, To whom should it matter? Is our value tied to our appearance?

Ultimately, I’m satisfied with the answers that Show points us to; that it’s what’s on the inside that counts; that it really doesn’t matter what other people think; that what’s truly important is that we find ourselves beautiful.

What a gloriously uplifting message.

[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]

I actually hadn’t wanted Hye Jin to cover up her freckles in a makeover. I felt that Show’s glorious message that an ordinary girl who doesn’t look like a model can still be beautiful in the eyes of not one but two very good men, shouldn’t get watered down.

But, I appreciated that ultimately, Hye Jin had done it for herself. She’s the one who’d made it happen. No one dragged her by the wrist and thrust her at a team of makeup artists and stylists. She’d decided that she wanted it, and had gone about getting it for herself. That self-empowerment is something that I can get behind, even though I’m with Shin Hyuk in mourning the “loss” of her freckles, which I thought were adorable.

Also, even though Sung Joon’s growing feelings for Hye Jin are timed to coincide quite closely with her makeover, I appreciate that when Sung Joon realizes that Hye Jin is his Hye Jin, that he says to her with satisfaction, that she’s exactly the same. I love that his words aren’t centered on her appearance in the least, but on her personality.

In episode 15, when Hye Jin chooses to pursue her passion in writing, for herself, in order to look pretty to herself, it’s pretty darn awesome. I love that feeling fulfilled is prized alongside romantic happiness, and I appreciate that message a lot.

After the time skip, it’s fantastic to see Hye Jin looking so radiant. She’s so happy and so full of joy, that her freckles and curly hair, which she’d hidden for a while, look as fabulous as she does. I love that the curls and freckles are back. Coz essentially, Show is demonstrating that she never needed to hide them to look great.

This final message that Show has for us – that inner fulfillment actually brings out our beauty – is one that I absolutely love.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING

Ahh. The finale. What a warm, feel-good sort of ending. Sure, a lot of it qualifies as filler &/or fan-service, but I hafta say, what a pleasant hour it was.

Drama finales that are mostly feel-good epilogue can feel hodge-podge and patchy, like the writers are scrambling to fill up that hour of screen time, can’t think of what to do with themselves and the characters, and are just throwing things at us helter skelter without a real plan.

Not so She Was Pretty. Although Show didn’t have a whole lot of plot left by the final hour, the hour felt deliberate. It felt like we were tying up loose ends in a comfortable, satisfying sort of way. The hour didn’t feel rushed, nor did it feel like Show was trying to buy time. It just felt thoughtful, like Show was taking its time to gaze fondly at its characters and indulge in each one just a little, before tying up each character’s arc just enough, and then saying goodbye with gentle affection.

I enjoyed watching Sung Joon and Hye Jin come back together, get married and settle into married life. I love that we get to see that despite changes to their circumstances, Ha Ri and Hye Jin are still the best of friends. I love that Most comes back into the picture, and that Sung Joon gets to work with the Most team again.

I love that we get to see Shin Hyuk again, and that he’s still very much his cheeky self. Perhaps most of all, I love that he dedicates his new book to Hye Jin, addressing her as his best friend. Aw. That warms my heart so, that despite being out of touch, their emotional connection as friends is still so strong. They don’t need to see each other to care about each other, and think about each other. When he’d said goodbye, it wasn’t really goodbye.

Which is exactly how I feel about this show. I don’t want to say goodbye to these characters either, but, this isn’t really good-bye. It’s more of a See you later, in all of your curly-haired, freckled glory.

Thank you, Show, for reminding us that we’re beautiful just the way we are. ❤

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Sweet, warm & uplifting, with just a touch of pathos. Heart-grabby in the best way, in spite of minor missteps.

FINAL GRADE: A

TEASER: 

MVs:

Author: kfangurl

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

58 thoughts on “Review: She Was Pretty

  1. Hello, Kfangurl! I love your review of “She was Pretty’ and I agree with your take on the show…it was a very satisfying experience. I was a bit nervous jumping in as it was my first time watching a show as it was broadcast (huge shout out to Viki and the subbers-you rock!!!) so I am very happy with the sweet relationships and the lovely endings.

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    • Thanks, I’m so glad you enjoyed the review, Mary! 😀 And yes, I must say, this was a satisfying watch indeed. More than I’d expected it to be, really. How cool, that this was your first “live” watch, since it all turned out so well! There’s always that leap of faith we have to take, when we decide to follow a show as it’s airing. Yay that your leap of faith turned out to be so worthwhile! ^^

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  2. Whoaa.. that was an awesome review.. bang on. I loved the feel of this drama, its got this homely vibe, like coffee prince, that you can keep coming back to time and again, ( also everyone loves a makeover drama….)
    As predictable as this drama is, there are somethings they got right, the relationships, the comedy, story and cast.. I just loved the way they treated Hye Jins Friendship with Min Ha Ri, it was very endearing to see how they fell apart and came back together. I also iked the way Hye jin returned to her original look at the end of the drama, like how ordinary people are in real life…. my only heartbreak was ofcourse Siwon. I have never seen any of his previous dramas prior to this and just watching all of that perfectness just made me melt… 😀 …
    I think this is one of the best dramas of 2015, waiting for Oh My Venus now…. HEHE

    Cheers
    Sabrina

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    • Aw, thanks Sabrina, I’m so glad you enjoyed this review!! Yes, this does have a lovely welcoming feel to it; I can see myself watching this one again, after I’ve given it some time to “rest” and “refresh” 😉 Absolutely, the relationships is one of THE best things about this show. I enjoyed Hye Jin’s friendship with Ha Ri so much, especially after they cleared the air and made up. And YES, I was SO happy to see the curls and freckles back – that was important to me. Coz, I never thought she needed to hide them, and I wanted Show to make that clear too, that she could be perfectly happy even without the makeup and the expensive hair treatment.

      And OMG yes, Siwon totally stole my heart – and broke it, too – in this show. I’ve seen him in a couple of other things before, but honestly, I feel like it was here, that he broke through and achieved new heights in his ability to deliver a character with depth and nuance. I was floored, honestly. I can’t wait for him to finish MS and come back to our screens! If you’d like to bask in more of Siwon’s beauty, you can check out my Pure Pretty post for him here. 🙂

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  3. Thank you for this review kfg!…as my real life is having a lot of stressful situations, the updates over fb and other sns were only the ones that give a smile on my face…;) i love how you enumerate the things you love about this drama and glad that at some point we viewed the same way somehow….this light-hearted drama is the kind that you want to continue watching!….it’s not perfect but i do love some characters in here….especially SHIN HYUK!…..i do love this dude so much that it hurts not to watch him every week until finale. Park Seo Joon is always a good actor, i just felt that he wasn’t give a more substantial role portrayal. This is were i totally fell for the second lead’s character. How can i not?…Siwon has perfectly portrayed his character so well that it made me cry at some scenes…boy oh boy!…this dol really has a room for dramaland!…..I hate the panicky role of Hwang Jeum Um, i can take how she was look unpretty but being so jumpy most of the times…?…that i can’t handle….I love the bff thing of Hari and Hye Jin. I love that the second lead did not play bitchy…i love the little brother of Park Yoochun, Park Yoo Hwan as Joon Woo, i saw him in INR3…tho’ i love his character from INR3 more but i love how he turned to be so cute and lovable in this drama. Kim Rara added a hilarious ingredients on the drama no matter how exaggerated at sometimes like Hye Jin’s. The secret son’s character is very unnecessary i thought?….the only reason he’s there was because he was the secret character and nothing more!…I love this drama because tho’ it’s rom-com it manages to touch its viewers thru Siwon’s character and it gave a deeper thought……i love the friendship between Hye Jin and Shin Hyuk the dongsaeng and oraboeni relationship is very heartfelt that each time the camera focuses on these two, i don’t want to let them go away from the screen. The sincerity of Shin Hyuks’s character is very firm and loyal……sorry for being a bit pervy….but i love the kisses that Sung Joon made with Hye Jin!…the romance between these two were very mind-tickling!….pssssst! KFG with Park Soe Joon’s full lips he sure knows how to kiss!….like the one he made with Eum Jung Hwa in Witch Romance!…. 🙂 🙂 :)…lastly thank you for sharing some OST’s here and i love Siwon’s rendition in Only You that i played it over and over from my playlists…sounds so good!…just want to add this one from Kim Min Seung…the thump, thump song…hope you enjoy it as well… 🙂 ❤

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    • Woot, YAY that you managed to pop on by and check out the review, Evez! I know how it can be hard for you sometimes. And double yay that you enjoyed this show! It’s so feel-good lovely, isn’t it? 🙂 I hope it brought you a nice amount of relief from your RL stress lately! (Hugs, I hope things are less stressful now!)

      And yes, we do agree on many points about this show! I absolutely agree that Park Seo Joon wasn’t given a whole lot to work with. YES, Park Yoo Hwan is ADORABLE, isn’t he??? ❤ ❤ I liked him in INR3 too, but I really found him extra endearing here. Maybe coz his character cared about Seol so steadfastly? Such a darling. And Siwon definitely did an amazing job of portraying Shin Hyuk. I was SO not expecting him to blow me away, and he totally did! (You can soak in more Siwon awesome in my recent Pure Pretty post for him here. ❤ )

      Thanks for sharing the vid – I like that song from the OST too, very light and breezy. 🙂

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  4. When this drama first aired, I did not really want to watch it because of its plot. After reading positive comments on Twitter, I decided to give it a try and loved it. It is hilarious and heart warming and the relationships between different characters just pull you in . <3. Every character was fun to watch. I loved that bratty sister of hers too. This is also the first show I live- watched. I'll remember it fondly. Thank you for the review! Loved it ^^

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    • Glad you enjoyed the review, Saema! 😀 I’m so glad you decided to give this show a chance, even though it hadn’t interested you initially. Sometimes, we do get rewarded for following a show’s buzz, don’t we? 🙂 This was definitely a good pick to be the first show you live-watched! As you know, it doesn’t always turn out this well, so YAY that you now have excellent live-watch memories and (probably?) would be willing to watching something else live now 😉

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  5. Fabulous review! I loved everything about She Was Pretty. I happen to love exaggerated, over the top comedy, so I adore Hwang Jung Eum, especially in this. So many funny moments from her and Choi Siwon.

    The romance was wonderful, with two amazing guys. One moment I would be smiling at the romance between Sung Joon and Hye Jin and then immediately heartbroken watching Shin Hyuk pine over Hye Jin. It was brutal.

    The themes and messages throughout the drama were so heartwarming. You really described them well. I love how everyone eventually seemed to embrace Hye Jin’s looks, and how she herself was also able to embrace her natural self. Such an amazing drama 🙂

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    • Thanks Kay! I’m glad you enjoyed this review!! 😀 And how cool, that you enjoy OTT campy comedy, since this show had a good amount of that. I personally found it a little much sometimes, but I found it quite easy to adjust. And while I found Hwang Jung Eum’s delivery of the campy a little too manic for my taste, I was totally on board with Siwon’s brand of funny. His variety of expressions cracked me up so much. I think that makes it all the more gut-hitting, when Siwon delivers the glimpses of sorrow. He makes the contrast work so well. Masterful.

      Yes, I LOVED the themes in this show – such uplifting, meaningful, encouraging messages! We need more of that in dramaland, and I’m so pleased that we’re seeing more of that now. 🙂

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  6. YEAH! I hurried to finish the last few eps after your review came out so I could read it 🙂 Amazing review, as always. I knew the OST would suit you from what I heard at the beginning, there were a number of good songs there. The groans were minor enough, it was a show easily forgiven. Still swooning from the red sweater scene, ooh… I think I’ll watch it another 10 times now. Thanks for the stills, too 😀 What on earth am I going to watch next?! Hmm.. will take a little break and feel out the next one…

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    • Wow~! I feel so honored and important, I can’t believe you hurried your watch in order to read this review!! YOU SO SWEET ❤ Thanks for making me feel all special! ❤

      Yay that you enjoyed the review – it's my first Full Review in a while. Just, too many feels to contain in a Flash Review, I think! 😄 Yes, the OST is right up my alley.. I found a nice number of songs growing on me, and I've featured my top 3 in this review. Siwon's song Only You is just full of bittersweet poignance. More sweetness than bitterness, and just full of feels. ❤

      Oh yes, the kiss was hot. Park Seo Joon legit gave me tingles. I totally hit the replay button, of course! 😄 As for what to watch next, have you checked out Sassy Go Go?? If you’re the mood for feel-good high school fare, it’s worth a whirl. I’m enjoying it very much 🙂

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  7. Pingback: Pure Pretty: Choi Si Won | The Fangirl Verdict

  8. I really love your review , and I love this drama so so much. Choi Siwon’s acting comes as a surprise to me, I never expected he would be that good and I fall in love with him right away. I never liked Hwang Jung Eum’s acting before that’s why I hesitated in watching this show at first but she’s so good in this I can never imagine anyone else playing Hye Jin. And I love Hye Jin. I love Seong joon in later eps, he was a jerk at the start that I sometimes feel like slapping him with my pillow. Huh. And Ha Ri, I love her too. I feel bad for her you know and I can really understand her. Ahh…I love Most Team too. I just love every single thing about this drama. I should stop here before I abused “love” word too much :p

    Grade: LOVE.

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    • CHINGU! LONG TIME!! It’s so great to see you around here again – with a new blog url, no less! Are you still running your other blog?

      YAY that you enjoyed this review, AND the show. Hafta agree that Siwon’s amazing delivery came as a surprise – a very happy surprise! Now I want more Siwon on my screen, as soon as possible! If only he wasn’t off to MS, sniffle.

      TOTALLY agree with your LOVE rating for the show and for all the characters. I enjoyed the Most team too, even though I didn’t quite mention them in the post. I was very pleased when Sung Joon went back to Most eventually. That made me happy. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol, I didn’t realised I used this account to wrote the comment. This blog is for my outdoors activities that I do quite often recently. I still running my other blog but I’ve become a passive reader cause I’m having a major kdrama writer block. Hehe.

        I think this is the first time I watch Park Seo Joon as a lead and it was only my second time watching him on my little laptop screen. The first one was in kill me heal me. And I must say that I really love the chemistry between PSJ and Hwang Jung Eum. They were at ease with each other that I have not found any moment with them that looked awkward. ❤

        And lastly, don't mention about siwon went to army, I cried myself a bucket yesterday. Shim Changmin is off to MS too together with Siwon. Sigh~ 2 years will pass without us even realizing it, and well, I survived Song Joong Ki 😀

        I wrote too many random things inside this comment I should stop now. I can't wait to read your next review because yours is always fun to read. ^^

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        • Ah, how cool, that you’re getting into the outdoors! And enough to blog about it, no less! I wish I were more outdoorsy. 😛

          I love Park Seo Joon!! I first saw him in Witch’s Romance, where he melted me into a big ol’ puddle. If you haven’t seen that one, it’s worth checking out, particularly for Park Seo Joon! 😉 And yes, I totally agree with you – you can tell that PSJ and HJE are very comfortable with each other. I thought it might be weird seeing them play OTP here, since they played sort-of siblings in KMHM, but it totally worked.

          Aw.. there, there. It’s true that 2 years is a long time, but we’ll get there! And they’ll come back to us, more awesome than ever! In the meantime, you can console yourself with the gallery of Siwon handsome that I collected for his Pure Pretty post here. 😉

          And, YOU SO SWEET, thanks for saying my reviews are fun to read! Motivates me to keep writing ’em. 😀 I hope your writer’s block eventually goes away, and that you’ll feel inspired to write again! HUGS!

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  9. As usual, wonderfully insightful review! I wasn’t a fan of the plot but was curious to see what this trio of actors could do. So happy I checked it out!
    We’ve talked about bromance before but it was so heartwarming to see Hye Jin & Ha Ri in such a great friendship…not just cutesy but layered and unconditional. And kudos to writer-nim for letting them deal with the impersonation in a mature way.
    A good, interesting supporting cast can make or break a drama for me and I thought the Most staff provided decent filler and support; Hye Jin’s family, too.
    Basically, a nice cheery ride delivering great messages in a very Most way.

    And then there’s SiWon. Sigh. I thought he was fine in KOD but the goofy started to wear thin. However, here it just WORKED! He owned the screen whenever he was on it. I loved the nuances in his expressions as they flowed through goofy, sad, lonely, hurt – sometimes all in the same scene! I agree that they didn’t need to throw him quite so completely to the wolves at the end but I’m glad they showed him moving on. Special note: SiWon’s goodbye scenes felt especially wrenching because all I could think of was his upcoming enlistment!

    The scenes between him and Seung Joon will have to tide us over… Hilarious!!

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    • I’m so pleased you enjoyed the review! 😀 And absolutely, the friendship between Hye Jin and Ha Ri was a special, special thing indeed in dramaland. Not only is their friendship portrayed as deep and unconditional, I love that we get to see that play out. I love that we get solid amounts of screen time exploring their friendship. I mean, so often, even if we get a strong female friendship in a drama, it’s usually relegated to secondary scenes. Not here. Hye Jin’s friendship with Ha Ri was a primary plot point, and I loved that. ❤

      Yes, definitely with you on how the supporting cast was a likable bunch. I liked all of them and enjoyed the various little side arcs, particularly the one between Han Seol and Joon Woo. Park Yoo Hwan is so freaking adorable, seriously. ❤

      And Siwon. ❤ He did an amazing job of bringing Shin Hyuk to life, and I've never been so blown away by him in a role before. I feel like he suddenly broke through in this role, and found that deep place within, from which to deliver the character. SO good. I wish he wasn't off to MS, coz 2 years is such a long time to wait! In the meantime, to soothe the sting of his MS enlistment, you can soak in some Siwon awesome in his Pure Pretty post here 🙂

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  10. I love your review. You pointed out what I have been feeling while watching the drama. The story might be simple but each character has its own depth and richness. This script have been very unfair towards Ji Seong-Joon character, but Park Seo-Joon acted it out very well.

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    • Aw, thanks Sabrina! Glad you enjoyed this review, and yay that we feel similarly about this show. I really liked that each character had his or her own flaws, but no one was a Big Bad. They all felt like real people with real cares and concerns. Yes, I did feel that Sung Joon was relatively under-developed as a character. It definitely was Park Seo Joon’s warmth and personal appeal that helped to make the character work anyway. Still, it’s a relatively small gripe in a drama that managed to be so heartwarming and uplifting 🙂

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  11. Just finished watching this show 😀 Took me about a day and a half, LOL :)))) When I start liking something, I seriously don’t stop :))))

    Sooo! I really liked it! I laughed my ass off on silent mode at 3 o’clock in the morning because my whole family was sleeping soundly :))))

    I have to admit that, like you, I was not taken aback by Sung Joon at first. He was just a jerk that took his frustrations out on others. But as the show progressed, I started seeing depth, emotions, feelings that a jerk would not have. He redeemed himself in my eyes when he admitted his mistake about the airport. Sure, it took a while, but at least he was honest and sincere in his apology to Hye Jin.

    Hye Jin was lovely, though I found her earlier self much too cartoonish for my taste. But then, she reminded me of myself in high school. I was pretty cartoonish myself, now that I think back on it :))))) My best friend told me at some point that he would never get bored of watching me even for days in a row because my expressions keep changing, like a cartoon character :))))
    She was lovely and lovable. I could sense her struggle, though I couldn’t understand it from a personal point of view. I understood though why she hid from Sung Joon at first. It happens to me too. When I meet old friends from school, I get anxious whether I’m in a good place, or if I live up to everyone’s expectations… Too bad humans are such easily influenced creatures…

    Loved Ha Ri, though for a good stretch of the show I thought I was looking at another classical story about friends betraying each other. When she was admitted into the hospital, that’s when she convinced me she was genuinely struggling.

    I loved all relationships in this show. Everyone got their own arc, small or big didn’t even matter. I thought to myself “Ah, this is the kind of world I’d like to live in” And Show did teach me something. I am the main character of MY story. It doesn’t matter if I feel inferior at work, or if my friends have better lives than me, I am the main character in my story. It might not be a book-worthy story, but it is still mine. And I really appreciate a good lesson.

    I loved the ending. The whole episode, but especially Sung Joon with their daughter crossing the street. She was so cute and he had such a charming smile on. His smile exuded happiness, fulfillment and most of all, love.

    All actors had solid performances and I really enjoyed all of them. And I understand why the immediate Pure pretty post on Choi Si Won ❤ He did a really good job here ❤

    I will definitely come back to it ❤ It gave me peace of mind. It felt like watching the sincere struggle of people we just pass by on the streets and never give a second look. And it also made me want to try harder at living. Doing whatever small thing I like that can seriously improve the quality of my life, right? Like braiding my hair before going to work instead of just letting it loose. Or finally picking up studying japanese from where I left off. Or involving myself more in my work. Not doing just fine, but being excellent at being a junior engineer. Junior for now.

    Thank you so much for this review 🙂 Since I can't find time to also look for dramas on my own, I always rely on your reviews. And this turned out to be a drama I needed right now, for some reason. I'll try to enjoy life more from now on ❤

    Thank you ❤ You're the best, as always ❤

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    • Wow, Sabina, you finished this show REALLY fast! Your drama efficiency never ceases to amaze me! 😄 Can’t say I blame you, though. She Was Pretty IS a very engaging watch, isn’t it? 🙂

      Yes, I definitely feel they overdid the meanness with Sung Joon.. There were definitely moments when I felt that the meanness felt jarring on him. Like when he blurted out that he disliked Hye Jin because someone like her didn’t deserve to bear that name. I was, like, Seriously?!? I blame the writing, in this case. They didn’t have to write him as such a mean character in the beginning, especially since they also took pains to show us his warm and sweet side outside of work.

      The cartoonish sides of Hye Jin take some getting used to. I’ve come to realize that it’s actually a bent in Korean humor. The OTT campy gag type of humor is actually very popular, and therefore, we see it show up in our dramas fairly frequently. So this is less an issue with Hwang Jung Eum’s acting style, and more that the PD very likely asked her to deliver the character in that way. Kudos to Hwang Jung Eum, for managing to make Hye Jin so full of real heart, in spite of the cartoonish aspects of her character.

      And YES, perhaps THE most lovely surprise of this drama, is the meaningful, heartwarming, uplifting messages it delivers to us. That we are the main characters of our own stories, that we are beautiful the way we are, that inner fulfillment is just as important as finding a romantic happy ever after. In the end, it feels like so much more than a simple romantic comedy; it feels more like messages about self-love and self-worth, and I like that a lot.

      I’m SO glad that you picked up this, AND that you enjoyed it! 😀 I’m always happy to point you towards more dramas – but you already know that by now 😉 Hugs ❤

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  12. Thanks for this review! I cried all over again from reading. I loveee love love hyejin’s charismatic character and still wonder how one can be as loveable as her. The scene where hyejin says she wants to look beautiful to herself is incredibly touching and inspiring. ‘I want to live like that’ was my thought. Seeing how badly sung joon’s heart longs for her old friend hyejin was soo touching I thought my heart would crack in two. But seeing their relationship blossomed made me think, how does it feel like to love someone that much. It made me very enviousssss. So much good feels!!! Best drama ever!!!

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    • Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed this review so much, marechii! 🙂 Indeed, She Was Pretty proved to be an unexpectedly heartwarming and thought-provoking show. I think that’s why so many of us love the drama so much. It’s not just about romance for the OTP. It’s about loving yourself, and loving others, and finding your own beauty, which in turns makes your whole world so much more beautiful. Definitely the kind of encouraging and uplifting message that we could all use more of. ❤

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  13. Hi there! Let me tell you, your reviews are very well written and even though I only recently discovered your blog, I can say I’m very impressed in that you express on point what I thought about the dramas I’ve watched. I’m pretty new to dramas so it’s very refreshing to know that I’ll be able to pick great ones based on the scores you give them. I was looking forward to finishing the drama as well, so that I could read your review because spoiler alerts never work for me haha.

    About the drama, I really appreciated the fact that they made the characters feel genuine and plausible. I love that they knew how to successfully transmit themes that would leave viewers satisfied and inspired. I really dislike when shows make the moral of the story too obvious or too cliche. Nothing extremely bad had to happen in order for the characters to grow as people and their experiences aren’t far from reality.

    Personally, I love Ha Ri’s character and her friendship with Hye Jin. I was able to understand Ha Ri’s flawed actions because I just think she was very overwhelmed by the realness and sincerity of Sung Joon’s care for her in such shallow lifestyle she used as a way to escape her problems and feel validated as a person. Partly because even though I’m a guy, their true friendship is something I long in my life and the unconditional way in which Hye Jin is able to bring the best out of her friend is just a life goal for me. Man, I really wish I could ever have a friendship like that. I hate it that it’s just a drama in the end, but I acknowledge this is why we love them so much; the ability they have to make us experience a lot of different types of emotions in such an intense way. Honestly, though I’m so happy with the way Hye Jin and Sung Joon came about and their relationship as the main couple, I can’t help it but to cherish Hye Jin and Ha Ri’s friendship above the OTP.

    I do have to differ about Siwon’s character though. First, I thought that many of his shots, specially in the first episodes, weren’t that necessary to the whole plot, like if they were just taking advantage of his idol “dorky-lovely” image (which I think is somewhat overrated based on the fact that it’s easier for you as an actor when the character’s personality is closer to yours). I also find it very contradicting that he liked Hye Jin because she was real, but he, on the other hand was provoking pity by pretending to be so poor other people had to pay for his stuff. I mean, I get it; he didn’t want for people to treat him differently because of his wealth, but he didn’t have to go that far. I don’t know… I just didn’t enjoy his character a lot, it really frustrated me at times. (so sorry!)

    I’m also underwhelmed about the use of instrumental music in here. Unlike “Big”, I didn’t find it memorable or being strong enough to change the mood by itself.

    Overall, I’m so grateful I got to watch this drama. I’m pretty sure that I’ll watch it again. Is there any drama you’d like to recommend?. You have a new fan from Costa Rica now. Keep up the good work! 🙂

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    • Hi there Jonathan! Welcome to the blog – and to the wonderful world of kdrama! 😀 I’m so pleased that you enjoy the blog; I’m looking forward to chatting dramas with ya!

      Thanks for saying that you were looking forward to finishing the drama so that you could read this review – that sure makes me feel all special and important! 😉 And yes, I definitely agree that the charm of this show is that it feel so very relatable. The characters are all ordinary flawed people facing challenges and insecurities that many of us can identify with. I truly appreciated that writer-nim took pains to flesh out Ha Ri’s dilemma. Although there were many times that I didn’t agree with Ha Ri’s decisions or behavior, I always understood where she was coming from, and that made her empathetic. Better yet, I’m go glad that Ha Ri got to make things right and apologize properly to both Sung Joon and Hye Jin. I love the way Show handles that, because it’s all part of our vicarious experience, as viewers. Not only do we get the message from Show, that we all have value, and that we need to be beautiful to ourselves first and foremost, we also get the message that, yes, sometimes we mess up, but it’s not the end of the world; we can still make amends, we still have worth, we still deserve to be loved. I think that’s really the core of what I love about this show. ❤

      I actually don't follow the kpop scene very closely at all, so I'm more familiar with Si Won as an actor than as an idol. Which means I don't really know how closely Shin Hyuk as a character takes on Si Won's real personality and traits. All I can say is, I've seen Si Won in several other acting roles, and he's not always the same. He was hammy and funny too in King of Dramas, but this time, in She Was Pretty, his delivery took on a depth that really impressed me. 🙂 I do agree that Shin Hyuk fully had the means to buy his own meals and didn't have to mooch off Hye Jin. It didn't really bother me too much, in that I saw it as a quirk of his character. Additionally, I feel that beneath the hamminess, Shin Hyuk did occasionally give off hints of loneliness. So I just took it all as his weird way of getting to spend time with Hye Jin, while enjoying getting a reaction from her, with all of his ribbing. Occasionally, I found his antics a little too juvenile, but overall, I found him a good person. That's my two cents anyway (or was that more like five? 😄 ), but really, it's ok if you don't agree, coz that what makes dramaland an interesting place – we all experience dramas differently and sharing our different perspectives can result in new insights. I find that really cool. 🙂

      As for a drama that I'd like to recommend.. Given that you've expressed an appreciation for the strong friendship between Hye Jin and Ha Ri, I'd like to recommend School 2013, a drama where I loved the strong friendship between our male leads. It’s set in high school, but the characters’ struggles are quite universal. Aside from the wonderful bromance, it really is a thoughtfully, carefully written show that I loved both times that I watched it. I hope you’ll love it too! My review of the show is here, if you’d like to take a peek before you decide. 🙂

      Like

  14. if you love this show, watch kill me, heal me too. Park Seo Joo and Hwang Jung Eun and Ji Sung was amazing. Ji Sung was amaingly goos in that drama!

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    • Actually, I have seen Kill Me, Heal Me, and I loved it. 🙂 It’s one of those dramas whose review I’ve got backlogged.. I’ve got quite a lot of backlog, come to think of it 😛 I hope to put out at least a quick review of KMHM one of these days. I do agree that Ji Sung is AH-MAZING in KMHM. It’s worth the watch for his performance alone. ❤

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  15. I loved your review, it was a pleasure to read.

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  16. Best K Drama of 2015. all the casts play their part amazingly..
    thank you so much for the review..
    Plus: Park Seo Joon is breathtaking..

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    • Glad you loved this show so much, reReina! 🙂 It’s definitely one of my favorites this year, though I probably wouldn’t crown it Ultimate Kdrama of the year myself ^^ I must agree, Park Seo Joon is very, very melty.. Twas so nice to have his swoony warmth on my screen again ❤

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    • Really stupid drama,at first I like to watch how funny and really anxious who will be kim hye jin chose at the end. Watching shin yuk so nice and always taking care of hye jin no matter what even when she was ugly but she chose sung jon who very mean to her even when he didn’t know that she the real hye jin that very heartbraking. Really stupid woman just chose people only because she had a good memories about it. Stupid drama.

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      • Aw.. Looks like you were really upset by Hye Jin not choosing Shin Hyuk in the end. I can understand how you feel; Shin Hyuk made me cry too. The silver lining, I suppose, is that when the perfect second lead doesn’t get the girl, he gets every other female viewer’s heart out there (sort of like Chilbongie is AM1994 did). I will probably always have a soft spot for Siwon thanks to how wonderfully he played Shin Hyuk in this show. ❤

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  17. Pingback: Year In Review: 2015 | The Fangirl Verdict

  18. I agree with your POV most of the time and even when I don’t, your reviews are still enjoyable to read.

    I hafta say (and I’m probably in the minority) SWP was blah for me. Hwang Jung Eun was just SHRILL throughout the drama, though she did turn it down towards the end. Sung Joon’s meanness to Hye Jin in the beginning, was to me, unacceptable and totally baseless. And, I couldn’t fathom how Ha Ri could do that to her best friend. It’s just not something you do. Sure, feelings can’t be helped but you can remove yourself from the situation imo. Only bright spark in the drama was Siwonnie’s Shin Hyuk.

    I was really looking forward to the drama but felt so let down.

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    • Aw, I’m sorry SWP didn’t work out for you, SOSsy! I guess it’s just one of those things, eh? Sometimes a show that other people love just doesn’t work for you, no matter how hard you try to adjust your lens. :/ I totally understand your points too, actually. I agree that Hwang Jung Eum has a tendency to be shrill, and I also didn’t like Sung Joon’s meanness to Hye Jin (which we don’t actually see him apologizing for), and Ha Ri really crossed the line. Somehow, in spite of Show’s flaws, I was able to enjoy the show a lot. It’s a pity that you didn’t get the same enjoyment from the show, but at least we’re in agreement that Siwon is lovely as Shin Hyuk. Ahhh.. So lovely. ❤

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      • Ha, no reason for you to be sorry 😉
        We agree on some, disagree on others no?
        Maybe I watched SWP during my KDrama slump so I was less forgiving, especially since it was just after the high of Sassy..but I’m baaack…OMG Descendants, but I digress.

        Siwonie ~ forever a soft spot of mine. He has improved so much since Oh! my lady hasn’t he?

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        • Ooh, I’m glad you’re enjoying Descendants, SOSsy!! I’m liking it a lot more than I’d expected to. Song Joong Ki! OMG, so swoony! ❤

          And Siwon HAS improved by leaps and bounds since Oh My Lady!! I mean, I'd liked him very well in King of Drama too, but he clear blew me away in SWP. The depth of emotion, conveyed so quietly and yet so fully. THUD. He had me slack-jawed from wonder, seriously. I really sorta wish he'd make acting his full-time job and just do SuJu part-time – but all the SuJu fans would kill me for saying that! 😄

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          • Shhh beware the rabid SuJu fan girls haha
            But I like that he takes on these roles and can laugh at himself instead of being all image conscious. I also appreciate that as aware of how good looking he is, he doesn’t try to coast by on them gorgeous cheekbones and angular jawline. He’s really earnest and is willing to try different things. As you can tell, I am a fan.

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            • Oh, I’ve become a fan too! Even as a casual viewer, I couldn’t help but notice that he isn’t afraid to laugh at himself, and takes on a variety of roles that don’t allow him to just coast by on his looks. That consistency, in challenging himself, really endeared him to me. Of course, it was in SWP that he just upped and stole my heart. I think he’s awesome. ❤ I'd love him to act more, and I say that knowing I'm risking the wrath of said rabid SuJu fangirls! 😄

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  19. Would love a slightly different ending where Hye Jin is still pretty and grows her hair longer. And Sung Joon growing a pot belly as he was too well fed by Hye Jin and sports a pair of glasses instead. They would look just like what they were like when they were young.

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  20. Finally, I was able to watch the show. Another epic review chinggu! I wasn’t particularly happy for the first half of the show, well, except for Si Won. I love how he contorts his face. I thought everything was so standard and predictable. The lightness and warmth kept me going though. But past the halfway mark, I began to really enjoy the show. I was able to recognize and appreciate how show is highlighting ordinary things in a fun and warm way. To me, it made the show very real. But what I love most about this show, is that there really was no antagonist, only perfectly imperfect people committing mistakes, learning from them, and working to redeem themselves (Ha Ri, Jung Soon, Han Seol). That and, yes, that inner beauty matters most, are my take-away noble truths from show. 🙂

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    • Aw, I’m glad you ended up enjoying this show, kaiaraia!! It’s not a story that’s very inventive, but this one came across with so much heart and warmth that I loved it anyway. Much more than I expected to, I might add! Loved Si Won in this, so much. 😍😍

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  21. i know it’s been a while since you posted this review, but i finally got a chance to watch the drama for myself. while i really enjoyed the drama, especially how fleshed out and realistic its characters were, there one thing that i didn’t like and that was the subtle colorism/racism present of the show. it’s something that no one has called the show out on, but it’s there. i mean hye jin has dark/tanned skin, at least for korean standards, and somewhat curly/frizzy hair and is considered ugly. what kind of message does that give not only the korean audience, but also it’s international audience?? that black/dark is ugly, that to be beautiful you must be white/you must emulate the white man

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    • Oh yes, you absolutely have a point about the beauty standards in Korea. I agree it could be subtle racism, but at the same time, I don’t know if it is. Traditionally, fair skin and straight glossy hair have been the standards of Korean beauty, and I believe that was so even before Western influence came on the scene.

      In many Asian countries, fair skin is considered desirable, and this traces back in history to fair skin being marks of affluence. Those who were well off didn’t have to work in the fields to earn a living, and that’s why fair skin was desirable. On the other hand, in Western culture, tanned skin is often desirable. Ironically, this also traces back to affluence. Those who are well off can afford beach vacations, for example, while those who can’t afford it are stuck at work. Of course, this is not a comprehensive examination of the phenomenon, and is simplifying and generalizing a larger issue, but I thought it would still be useful to add some perspective to your point. 🙂

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  22. Awww.. everything you said in here voiced out all my thoughts and actually enlightened me more with my loose emotions. So thank you!

    I almost cried again the way you write with all the adjectives you used. Gosh! You’re a good writer.

    I almost can’t get over from the emptiness of losing Shin Hyuk but your words enlightened me and gave me the beauty of the separation and the end of his love for Hye Jin. I’m so grateful! I was so into it that I can’t sleep.

    This show gave me a new sense of feeling of my self and motivation to strive to be beautiful within and happy with my self. It also inspired me to find again my love for books and writing. Geez. I won’t forget this drama. Again, thank you and God bless! Please continue writing review. 🙂

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    • Aw, thank you for the encouragement, chrizenne! I’m so glad you enjoyed this lovely show, and I’m extra pleased that you found the review helpful and cathartic. It’s the mark of a truly good show, that it lingers with you afterwards, and this one lingered with me too, as it has with you. I love how uplifting it is, and that it isn’t just about finding love with someone else, but about loving yourself and finding your own happiness. 🙂

      Like

  23. I just finish this drama and I really love it!! Yeah, sometimes i need to shut my brain off for some ridiculous thing that happen in this drama, but i love the overall tone of this drama. What I like the most is the heartwarming feeling i got when i watch this drama. Funny, witty, sometime over the top but the warm that i feel thorough this drama made this drama interesting for me. I hate Seong Joon in the beginning with his mean action toward Hye Jin (its just too much!!! i wish writer did not make him too rude like that) but as he progress in this drama, I cant help but feeling his sincere love for Hye Jin. Its like, I feel he love Hye Jin much more than Hye Jin love him, and that one plus point for me, LOL. No wrist grabbing, no forced kiss, or any intense argument between this couple is another point plus in this drama. I dropped Witch’s Romance after some episode, where Park Seo Joon couple up with Uhm Jung Hwa (did u watch it, kfangurl? I still didnt want to continue to watch it, but if you write a review about that drama and love it, maybe i will reconsider to continue my watching hehe), but I love him here. Damn, his eyes hypnotize me 😀

    About Shin Hyeok, i never thought that ten is him. I thought that ten is chief editor, but oh well, I love Shin Hyeok personality. His love for Seong Joon’s underwear never fail to amuse me hahaha. And I love how he never fail to made me laugh all the time. He is that crazy friend that you never want to lose. So likeable person. Maybe if he ended up with Hye Jin, their relationship filled with him throwing so much joke at Hye Jin with Hye Jin always believe everything at his joke. That will be hilarious. But oh well, I prefer they stay as a friend than lover. Great performance, Siwon. After you made me love you in King of Drama, I love you again in here.

    Oh, I want to shout out for Yoo Hwan. I guess I can forget Yoo Chun, whom I love for many years since his dbsk era and choose this cute dongsaeng over him. Sorry Yoo Chun, but younger version of you is lovely I cant just ignore him and pretend I dont see him 😀

    Thx kfangurl for your review, once more I watch kdrama that you give good rating. I didnt regret I found your website back then when I googling for Princess’s Man ^^

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    • Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed this one too, San!! 😀 Heartwarming really is the word for this one. Through all the silly antics and all, this remained heartwarming and uplifting, and I was surprised by how much I loved it, and how much it moved me.

      I agree that they writer should’ve have made Sung Joon so mean to Hye Jin in the early episodes. It just felt excessive and uncalled for. His reason for being mean was even worse – that he didn’t like someone like her having the name Hye Jin. Ugh. I’m glad they warmed up his character in the later episodes though. And oh my, I so loved Siwon in this. This is my favorite role of his to date. This is the one where he made my cry, and now I want him to quit his kpop job and just act all the time. 😅 And I do agree that I prefer Shin Hyuk and Hye Jin to be friends rather than lovers. Weird friends with kooky sense of humor who just get each other. Aw. ❤

      As for your question about Witch’s Romance, I did watch it, and I did like it very well, as a matter of fact. You can check out my review here, and see if you feel like giving it another chance. 🙂

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  24. Fellow lurker here haha nice to finally comment one your amazing reviews! I’m so hesitant to watch this because I really want her to end up with the second lead, since I saw some clips of their banter together. It doesn’t help that her first love treats her awfully at first either. Still, your review really gave me a push to start it. Thank you!!

    Also, do you have any recommendations for a drama like Goblin? In the sense of the magical fairy tale vibe it had and the kind love interest? Thank you!! (I’ve already seen Secret Garden, Scarlet Heart, Noble My Love, Coffee Prince, BOF, Seducing Mr. Perfect, and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo)

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    • Glad you enjoyed this review, Leaf!! I did love Siwon as this show’s second lead, but I also did enjoy this OTP. I hope you are enjoying the show as much as I did! 🙂

      As for a magical sort of show.. have you seen Arang and the Magistrate? It’s magicky and there’s a whole mythology created, and I also really enjoyed Lee Jun Ki and Shin Min Ah in it. If you haven’t seen it, it might fit what you’re looking for. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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