The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Flash Review: My ID is Gangnam Beauty

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Not too long ago, lots of people on my Twitter feed were going gaga over Meteor Garden 2018, and so I dipped my toes in too, out of curiosity (yes, despite stating firmly that I had had my fill of the story via the J- and K-versions). I really liked the first episode, but found myself losing interest in the next few episodes, so much so that I ended up dropping out early, after just 4 episodes.

BUT! Plot twist!

I found similar tsundere-male-lead-campus-romance crack in My ID is Gangnam Beauty instead. This kinda-sorta gave me the addictive feels I once had over Boys Over Flowers many, many moons ago (ironically, I can’t bear to watch BOF now), but I liked this one better, and slurped up the first 10+ episodes back-to-back. Woah, indeed.

Yes, there are caveats, but they aren’t dissimilar to the ones you’d need to make for Meteor Garden 2018 too, so – fair play? 😉

ADJUSTING THE LENS

The main adjustment one would need to make, for this show, is the acting. Unfortunately, the acting of Im Soo Hyang and Cha Eun Woo, who play our leads Mi Rae and Kyung Seok, leans on the stiffer side of things.

Mi Rae is portrayed as a rather awkward character, and while Im Soo Hyang makes her sufficiently ungainly, it does come across as rather flat and one-note. On the other side of the table, Kyung Seok is a character that is rather unexpressive by nature, and therefore, Cha Eun Woo’s acting limitations don’t come into play as much. That said, even though the acting isn’t fabulous, it does feel sincere, and I was very much able to root for our characters from early on.

Another thing to keep in mind is, Show begins with a somewhat disturbing emphasis on physical appearance, with Mi Rae mentally rating the features of every female that crosses her line of sight. This almost turned me off watching the show, to be honest. But hang in there, the face rating doesn’t continue for long, AND, Show does call it out as bad behavior.

Lastly, things do feel a little clunky in spots, but if you’re able to just roll with it, Show is quite the warm, cracky sort of watch.

STUFF I ENJOYED

1. Mi Rae’s characterization and journey

Mi Rae is portrayed as a highly insecure character, and that insecurity stays with her through much of our story. If Mi Rae hadn’t spent her whole life feeling inferior and insecure, I would’ve found her continued self-doubt annoying. But, given that she’d been bullied her whole life, there is a lot for her to work through emotionally and psychologically, even though she looks pretty now. And so her insecurity and self-doubt feels understandable, in this context.

[MINOR SPOILER] There’s a lot of pathos in the fact that Mi Rae goes through extensive surgery, just because she wants to be an ordinary person. Not to be better than others, or attempt to be a superstar. She does it because she wants to be ordinary, and no longer the outcast. And then in episode 1, when she cries and tells Mom (Kim Sun Hwa) that she’s having fun; that people like her, someone like her; it’s really so poignant and sad. She’s never felt that it would be possible for people to like someone like her. Oof. [END SPOILER]

To me, what makes Mi Rae sympathetic is her attitude. She doesn’t see herself as a pretty girl that’s better than others, even though she’s had plastic surgery and is now considered a pretty girl. She’s still insecure in her own skin, and still awkward when talking with others. Only her physical appearance has changed; she’s still shy and awkward on the inside, and she’s just trying her best to fit in. That made my heart go out to Mi Rae.

In essence, I think this show would appeal to anyone who’s struggled to fit in. Beyond the topic of plastic surgery, this is about Mi Rae’s struggle for self-acceptance, and also, her struggle to be comfortable in her own skin, around others; the desire for others to accept and like her. I could empathize with that, and that made me root for Mi Rae pretty much from the get-go.

On the acting front, Im Soo Hyang plays Mi Rae with an awkwardness that is a little obvious in her facial expressions, but I particularly appreciate the slight gawky quality she gives Mi Rae’s gait. Mi Rae’s got a slightly awkward way of walking, like she’s just a little uncomfortable in her own skin, and I think that’s quite perfect.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here are just a couple of Mi Rae moments that stood out for me:

E9. Mi Rae is very sweet, in how she feels so very happy that Kyung Seok and his mom (Park Joo Mi) are happy. She’s rejoicing in their happiness, and that really endears her to me. She’s so sincere and so sweet.

E10. I’m glad that when Soo Ah (Jo Woo Ri) showed her true colors to Mi Rae this episode, that Mi Rae didn’t shrink from her. I’m also glad she didn’t agree to help Soo Ah win over Kyung Seok. Instead, she calls Soo Ah out on not ever liking her to begin with. That is a big step for Mi Rae, and I cheer.

[END SPOILERS]

2. Kyung Seok’s characterization

Kyung Seok is what I would call a cold male lead done right. Importantly, he’s not mean, unlike many other cold male leads around dramaland. He’s just reticent, is all. At the same time, he can be straightforward when he wants to be, and he mostly is – unless he’s evading the question of whether he likes someone, heh.

If you watched Chinese youth drama A Love So Beautiful (suuuper cute, do check it out if you haven’t!), then you’d appreciate this comparison: Kyung Seok kinda-sorta reminds me of Jiang Chen in ALSB. He’s aloof and reticent but his family situation explains why he would be so emotionally distant. And, he has a soft spot for Mi Rae which is more obvious than the one Jiang Chen had for Xiao Xi. Both very excellent things, in my books.

One of the reasons this show felt so cracky to me, is because I loved the fact that untouchable golden pretty boy Kyung Seok appears drawn to Mi Rae from the moment we meet him. From early on, we see that he regularly steps in to help her or save her when she’s caught in a bit of a situation; it does intrigue.

Another thing I really enjoyed about Kyung Seok, is that he’s unafraid of calling people out on their bullshit. He won’t stand by and watch, at least, not when it has to do with Mi Rae, and that endeared him to me a whole lot.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here are several Kyung Seok highlights which stood out to me:

E2. The way he trips up leery sunbae Chan Woo (Oh Hee Joon), and then basically calls out Soo Ah in the middle of her saccharine act, all to stand up for Mi Rae. I love it.

E9. Kyung Seok shows himself to be surprisingly principled, for someone who’s broke and hungry. I admire him for refusing to take someone else’s job away from them. Plus, he also declines to ask his mom for money, even though she  offers to help him out.

E10. The scene where Kyung Seok meets his mom in the cafe and they talk and cry a little bit together, is beautifully done. His tears fall naturally, and it doesn’t look like Kyung Seok is holding the tears back. In this moment, it appeared to me that Kyung Seok is just reticent in general, but he’s not repressed. He will cry if he wants to, and I like that. Props to Cha Eun Woo for delivering the scene so well!

E11. Kyung Seok punching out a guy for saying sleazy things about Mi Rae. I like how unrepentant he is, even when the other guy threatens to press charges. He’s that adamant that the guy needed a beating, for what he said about Mi Rae.

E12. The scene where Kyung Seok tells Soo Ah must be mentally ill, is priceless. Talk about cutting through the crap and telling it like it is. And he says it so matter-of-factly, too.

[END SPOILERS]

3. OTP Squee

There’s something very charming about a guy who’s able to see a girl’s worth when she herself struggles to see it, and intently focuses his attention on her, while studiously ignoring all other female wiles jostling for his attention. Kyung Seok basically does that for Mi Rae from the beginning of our story, and consistently steps in to help her when he perceives that she’s in a tight spot. And I do love that he doesn’t care that his actions send everyone around them into a shocked tizzy.

I like the idea that he likes her first; before she even likes herself, really, and definitely before she allows herself to like him. Because of Mi Rae’s deep-seated insecurities, she needs much more convincing than the average person, which results in quite a few melty instances of Kyung Seok standing up for her, or saving her, or indicating romantic interest. My heart squeed a little every time he did something along those lines, and I hafta say, I had no complaints whatsoever, about the extended squee. 😉

Importantly, Kyung Seok is gentle and respectful through it all, and just as importantly, Mi Rae is a positive presence in Kyung Seok’s life as well. She becomes his go-to safe place, and teaches him a thing or two, about relating with other people – including his heretofore estranged mother.

These two just worked together, for me, and I enjoyed watching them become closer and closer, over the course of the show.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here are some of my favorite OTP moments:

E3. I like the fact that Kyung Seok and Mi Rae sought to have a conversation, to clear the elephants from the room about her plastic surgery and his opinion of her mindset, instead of just avoiding each other. And how healthy, that they both apologized to each other and acknowledged each other, in spite of the awkwardness. I liked that a lot.

E3. Kyung Seok fishing for Mi Rae to validate that she thinks he’s cool, is cute and quite amusing.

E5. Again, Kyung Seok and Mi Rae have a conversation and apologies are said, and sharing is done. I like it. I like that these two can talk quite easily with each other, when they are alone together. Mi Rae sharing about her experience with being estranged from her dad, and Kyung Seok not jumping to any conclusions about why she’s telling him that, and instead quietly and gently asking her questions, is nice to see. This is such a healthy foundation for a relationship, and I’d love to see more healthy conversations in dramaland!

E5. Kyung Seok showing shades of jealousy, on top of already being quite protective, is pretty great. He seems distinctly on guard around Woo Young (Kwak Dong Yeon), and he sits right up when he hears that Mi Rae is going to wait tables at the festival, coz she’d told him that she’d be busy that week.

E6. I do very much appreciate that Kyung Seok states to Soo Ah (Jo Woo Ri), with a hint of shyness, that Mi Rae was cute in middle school. Aw. I love that he saw the cute in her, even when everyone else only saw the flaws in her physical appearance.

E6. Eee! Kyung Seok joining the matchmaking game unasked, and then requesting to jump straight to pointing out who he’d like to be paired with, and then just unwaveringly pointing at Mi Rae. So decisively swoony.

E8. Kyung Seok getting jealous over little things, like when Mi Rae smiles in response to Woo Young, is very amusing to me.

E9. Kyung Seok telling Mi Rae not to let another guy carry her on his back, is the first concrete indication that he’s given, that he likes her and wants them to be more than friends. The other times were more implied. Like the movie date, where Mi Rae could talk herself into believing that it was all platonic. She can’t talk herself out of this one. Eee!

E14. Even though Mi Rae’s request to keep their relationship a secret isn’t what Kyung Seok wants personally, I’m touched that he agrees to everything Mi Rae asks, even when it’s highly inconvenient and puts them in some ridiculous situations. He doesn’t complain, and he doesn’t look at all annoyed. He seems to fully accept that this matters to Mi Rae, and therefore he’s all in with keeping up the ruse. How wonderfully sweet.

E14. I do love when that pleased smile plays at Kyung Seok’s lips, coz he’s happy that he’s dating Mi Rae. Aw.

E15. It’s sweet that Kyung Seok is more than willing to help Mi Rae fulfill her high school desire to do things the other kids did and she couldn’t.

E15. Mi Rae’s paralysis about her past appearance is really still eating into her, and she sincerely thinks that if Kyung Seok was reminded of her old face, that there’s a possibility he won’t like her anymore. To which I really like Kyung Seok’s response. “You’re just you.” Indeed. You tell her, boy. ❤ He doesn’t like her for what she looks like; he just likes her for being her. And if he needs to bring on the kisses to prove it, I’m not gonna complain about that, at all.

[END SPOILERS]

4. Mi Rae’s friendship with Hyun Jung

I loved the friendship between Mi Rae and Hyun Jung (Min Do Hee). I loved that Hyun Jung was so accepting and supportive of Mi Rae, from beginning to end. She’s not judgmental at all, that Mi Rae went for surgery, nor jealous either. Just purely loving and supportive. I can’t help but love her. It’s just bonus that she’s played by Min Do Hee, who is cute and sassy, and gives Hyun Jung a spunk that I find natural and appealing.

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see more of this friendship other than on the periphery, since I think these two besties are very endearing together. But, I recognize that this is Mi Rae’s story and her journey, and she needs to walk it on her own, and therefore, it was almost necessary that Hyun Jung mostly support Mi Rae from the sidelines.

Even with that limitation, though, I still very much enjoyed this pair of friends, and the scenes they shared.

5. Kyung Seok’s grudging blossoming friendship with Woo Young [SPOILERS]

With Woo Young set up to be the other guy nursing romantic feelings towards Mi Rae, I was expecting to be suitably amused and entertained by their jealous antics. But I wasn’t, quite so much. I was much less amused by their jealous behavior than I thought I would be, most probably because some of the one-upmanship looked like low blows to me. Basically, when they say things to undermine the other, it makes the person saying it look bad. And they both do it. Which isn’t what I was hoping for. I was hoping that the boys would trip over themselves trying to impress Mi Rae, without trying to put the other down in the process.

BUT. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the grudging friendship that grew between them, particularly after Kyung Seok moves into Woo Young’s apartment. They’re gruff about it, but these two do care about each other. We see it in how Woo Young consistently gives Kyung Seok advice, and we also see it in how Kyung Seok takes care of Woo Young when he’s drunk. I think my favorite moment with these two, is how Kyung Seok brushed Woo Young’s teeth when Woo Young drunkenly insisted that he had to brush his teeth before going to bed. So cute, that Kyung Seok acquiesced, just to satisfy Woo Young. The fact that Kyung Seok even made breakfast for a bewildered Woo Young the next morning, is just icing on the cake. Hee.

Special shout-outs: 

Mi Rae’s relationship with her parents

I really liked how close-knit and loving Mi Rae’s family is. I enjoyed seeing how consistently proud and supportive of Mi Rae her parents were, whether it was pre-surgery or post-surgery. Yes, Dad (Woo Hyun) is upset at first that Mi Rae got plastic surgery, but once that anger is resolved (very sweetly, I might add), all of the love comes pouring out, and I just liked watching Mi Rae’s parents love on her.

[SPOILER ALERT] I do rather like the father-daughter arc where Dad got all upset at her for having plastic surgery, and then we get to see them inch towards each other until they’re fully reconciled. And I love that what signifies that they’re fully reconciled, is how dad gets up in the middle of the night to change the photo in his taxi. Sweetness.

Also, I was touched that Dad was so angry partly because he never got to say goodbye to Mi Rae’s old face, which is a face he loved. Aw. It’s nice that Mom finally understands that in episode 7, and sincerely apologizes. That felt really right.[END SPOILER]

Kyung Seok’s Mom

I thought Kyung Seok’s mom (Na Hye Sung) was a great character. Successful and at the top of her game, yet down-to-earth, sensible, tactful and thoughtful, and gently sympathetic and caring. To my eyes, she handled herself with a great deal of elegance, grace, and a whole lotta heart, whether she was dealing with work matters, her children, or her ex-husband. I’d love to see more women like her in dramaland. ❤

[SPOILER ALERT] I liked Mom so much that it pleased me a great deal that she was able to mend the broken relationships with her children, artificially estranged by the lies that her ex-husband (Do Sang Won) told them. I admired how much Mom holds herself back, when it comes to getting involved in her children’s lives. She loves them to bits, but recognizes that they aren’t used to having her around, and makes it a point to be respectful about their boundaries. I found that so refreshing, that she’s making sure not to pry, and it made me very happy that her efforts are rewarded, and she gets a full reconciliation with both her children.

Also, I got a good amount of satisfaction from the fact that Dad falls for Mom all over again – but is left in the cold.

Additionally, I really liked the way Kyung Seok’s mom reacts when she sees Kyung Seok and Mi Rae together in episode 14 and realizes they’re dating. She’s chill, but warm, and happy, with just a bit of teasing. Just perfect. ❤ [END SPOILER]

Eun as a character

Even though Eun (Park Yoo Na) is a fairly peripheral character, I really like her. I feel like she’s such a role model for young women. She’s smart, she’s active in school, she spots bullshit when it’s there, and she’s also compassionate.

[SPOILER ALERT] She’s observant enough to pick up clues about Soo Ah’s lies from early on, but she wisely keeps quiet about it. In episode 15, when things with Soo Ah go south and everybody starts talking about her, instead of joining in and saying, yes, I knew all these things, she keeps quiet, and reaches out to Soo Ah, from a compassionate standpoint. Not because she likes Soo Ah, but because she doesn’t want to risk Soo Ah doing something silly and hurting herself. When she meets with Soo Ah, she asks questions without an accusing undertone, and listens without judgment. I mean, how awesome is she? [END SPOILER]

We absolutely could do with more young women like Eun, in dramaland.

STUFF I DIDN’T ENJOY SO MUCH

The amount of time spent on Soo Ah

In principle, I found Soo Ah (Jo Woo Ri) an interesting character, with more to mine than the average clingy stock kdrama second female lead.

[MODERATE SPOILERS] Yes, Soo Ah is a smiling manipulative bitch that we all love to hate, but she was quite intriguing, because it soon becomes clear that she’s suffering from the exact same societal expectations of women as Mi Rae, even though she’s considered a natural beauty at the top of her game. The pressure on her to stay at the top, leads her to diet pills, bulimia, depression, and lots of lies.

After watching Soo Ah for some time, where she puts on an act in front of everyone, I came to the conclusion that Soo Ah needs to feel power in her beauty. So when a guy seems to like another girl, she feels the need to assert her beauty and steal the guy’s attention for herself, not because she likes him, but because she needs to prove to herself that she is more beautiful and attractive. To her, life is a competition where dog eats dog, and only the fairest and most popular and most beautiful succeeds.

Soo Ah’s way of interacting with the world around her makes for interesting food for thought, because, even though everyone pretty much ends up hating on her (including us as viewers), in effect, Soo Ah is only part of the problem. The guys falling over themselves for her attentions is the other part of the problem. For example, if Soo Ah had hinted to Tae Young (Ryu Ki San) that she might like him, and Tae Young had responded like Kyung Seok, then nothing would have happened. It’s because Tae Young had been open to her flirting, that his relationship with Tae Hee (Lee Ye Rim) crumbled. In which case, Soo Ah’s interference can even be seen as a good thing for Tae Hee, who shouldn’t waste her time dating a guy who isn’t sure of his feelings for her. [END SPOILERS]

Even though we get to see the pressures associated with being pretty through Soo Ah’s character, I have to admit that I felt like we spent more screen time on Soo Ah than I would’ve preferred. I guess that’s testament to how effective Jo Woo Ri was, in making Soo Ah unlikable and annoying. Less manipulative Soo Ah, and more OTP Cute, is what I wanted on my screen. 😉

THEMES / IDEAS 

For a show whose appeal lies so much in the amount of cute and squee it serves up, Show manages to touch on quite a few meaningful themes and ideas. I thought that was pretty impressive.

Here’s a quickish rundown of the ones that left the deepest impression on me:

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. It’s a tough question that Show raises, I think. Should Mi Rae have avoided surgery and pressed on with the looks that she’d had, when no one would pay her any attention and nobody would give her a chance to show the talents she has? It was only because she now looks the way she does, that she got a chance to dance, and therefore shine.

E3. I feel like we’re getting snippets of real-world issues about plastic surgery. Mi Rae getting mistaken for someone else reminds me of when all the Miss Korea contestants for some pageant all looked similar to one another. Except here, we get to see how that affects Mi Rae.

E3. The psychology around why people treat Mi Rae poorly – is it because they’re jealous that she looks better than her given lot in life, and therefore is primed to received benefits that she wasn’t originally destined for? Or are they disgusted purely by the fact that she’s not a natural beauty?

E6. I do appreciate that Show is throwing light on a fair number of real-life struggles. We have the various females in the Chemistry department being told exactly what’s wrong with their appearance by the guys, on a regular basis, and it’s being passed off as jokes when it’s really an invasion of privacy. I like how the girls fought back this episode, and put the guys in their places.

E6. There’s also the musings of Kyung Seok’s mum, who grew up pretty, and how that ended up being a negative thing in her life, when she allowed her looks to direct the way her life unfolded. I like Show’s message, that beauty goes beyond looks.

E7. I notice that this show keeps showing us how to apologize properly. When the sunbaes half-ass the apology at the after-party, they get grilled on precisely what they’re apologizing for, before everyone lets it go with a toast. And then when Kyung Seok meets his mom and she says she doesn’t even know what to say to him, even though she feels sorry, he tells her that if she feels sorry, she should apologize. And in an earlier episode too, when Yoo Jin (Lee Tae Sun) feels sorry to Jung Boon (Jung Seung Hye) but doesn’t know what to do about it, Kyung Seok instructs him to just go ahead and apologize, and tell her how he feels so sorry that he doesn’t know what to say. I find this a rather refreshing motif.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

This finale is a little underwhelming in spots, but overall, I found it a sweet round-up of our story.

We spend more time than I would like, on Soo Ah’s arc, with her landing in hospital after the fright of Dong Won (Ham Sung Min) threatening her with “acid,” and everyone else coming to her rescue. Still, I appreciate that Soo Ah’s problems aren’t whooshed away magically, and that she takes time off from school to start afresh. I also liked the shot of honesty that the whole thing provokes from Mi Rae, who finally articulates that 1, she hates Soo Ah right back, and 2, yes, she wasn’t happy and that’s why she got plastic surgery, but 3, is Soo Ah so happy after all, because she’s pretty?

I like that Mi Rae finally gives voice to the lesson that she’s been learning all this time: that you don’t need to be pretty in order to have the right to live.

Sure, Mom & Dad’s glee that Mi Rae’s boyfriend is the super handsome Do Kyung Seok kind of dilutes the whole message that appearances aren’t everything, but I decided to cut them some slack because they’ve felt so much pain over their daughter being bullied for her looks all her life, that it must feel doubly satisfying to them that now that Mi Rae’s dating, her boyfriend turns out to be the handsomest boy they’ve ever seen. Heh.

I’m pleased that even though Tae Young tells Tae Hee that he can’t stop thinking about her, that she doesn’t take him back. In fact, I kinda love her response, “Really? That’s too bad. I don’t think about you anymore. There are people who look okay when you’re just friends… but once you start dating them, they’re not that great. You were like that. So I got over it pretty quickly. Don’t feel too hurt by it though. See you.” YES, girl. You tell him. He doesn’t get to cheat on you emotionally with another girl, then dump you, then get to take you back after it turns out he was being played by the other girl.

We also get a good dose of OTP Cute, with Mi Rae springing a birthday surprise on Kyung Seok. What stands out to me, though, is how far Mi Rae has come. She used to be crippled by the thought of what other people thought of her, but now, despite Kyung Seok’s protests to keep it down, she blithely sings him a birthday song, even though there are other diners in the restaurant. I felt proud of her for that. Also, she used to be so averse to taking pictures, first, because she hated the way she looked, and then, because she was self-conscious about her plastic surgery. And now, here she is, whipping out the selfie stick so that she and Kyung Seok can take a couple wefie together. Aw. And she’s even confident enough to plant a kiss on his cheek! Kya! I felt so proud of her.

Kyung Seok’s lovey-dovey musings about proposing to Mi Rae in the future is a little sudden, I felt, but I appreciate the sentiment, that he never thought he would ever want to get married, but with Mi Rae, he’s changed his mind. And I like the reminder that even though this story has largely been about Mi Rae’s journey, Kyung Seok has grown and changed too, and Mi Rae’s played a significant role in that.

As we close out our story, I’m happy to see Mi Rae and Kyung Seok rocking their matching hoodies on campus, and taking all their classmates’ teasing in their stride. No more hiding, no more embarrassment; just the boldness to be, which is something I dig very much indeed.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

A little clunky in spots, but heartfelt at its core. Also, nicely cracky for a good part of its run.

FINAL GRADE: B

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Author: kfangurl

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

56 thoughts on “Flash Review: My ID is Gangnam Beauty

  1. Fangirl, I’m looking to find a web site to watch kdrama’s other than my only source, Netflix. Would you recommend one to me?
    Thank you, Carol Shibuya, California, USA

    Like

    • Try kisssian. There’s a lot of kdramas there. 😁

      Like

    • Dramafever
      Viki
      Kocowa

      Dramafever and Viki are the 2 main websites for watching Korean dramas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you very much for your suggestions. Of late, I haven’t found what seems to interest me on Netflix for choices of kdramas except for the wonderful series, “Mr. Sunshine”. I think I need more of a variety because the ones that are recommended on Fangirl are not available on Netflix.
        Carol

        Like

    • Hi Carol, apologies for this late reply. I’d say Kocowa and Viki are your main contenders if you’re looking for alternative legal viewing solutions. I hope you’ve had some success with them since the time they were suggested 🙂

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  2. You had me at cold male lead done right. 😂 I feel compelled to give this a try now. 😛

    Like

    • Oh, I have to ask! Did you end up checking this one out, and did you feel this was a cold male lead done right?? 😀

      Like

      • I was in a long term relationship with another drama (Story of Yan Xi Palace… 70 episodes!!) which took a while to exit. I only managed to watch a couple episodes of this before Dramafever died. Not really enough to get into the meat of the relationship yet so I still have to withhold judgement lol. 😛

        Maybe bc I had just finished Yan Xi Palace but I was really struck by how the male lead is a total doppelganger for Xu Kai who’s the 2nd male lead in that drama (http://www.dramapanda.com/2018/08/story-of-yanxi-palaces-wu-jinyan-nie.html).

        Both boys are pretty hehe. 😁

        Like

        • Oh wow, Yan Xi Palace! Did you like it enough to finish it? I’m not really into inner court politicking, so I’ve been avoiding that show despite the raves. But OMG that Xu Kai really does look like Cha Eun Woo! He kinda looks like Cha Eun Woo’s rebel twin! 😲😄 I’d love to see them in the same drama, actually playing twins! 😀

          As for continuing this show without DF.. if you’re ok to walk a little on the darker side, you could try here. 😉 I do think this is the kind of cold male lead that you would approve of!

          Like

          • Palace/harem dramas are definitely an acquired taste. I haven’t watched one in a really long time and was intrigued by the good reviews too. It’s pretty cracky for a while but got a little boring toward the end I thought. The casting was a pleasant surprise though… the emperor is probably one of the more attractive ones than I usually see in these types of dramas lol.

            Thanks for the link! These sites take more effort to watch bc I can’t stream directly to my TV but it’s good to know there are still options!

            Like

            • Lol. An attractive emperor certainly is a plus! 😁 Although I have to confess I find it hard to get into the whole baldy Qing styling..! So even the attractive emperor would be bald, haha! 😝

              That site’s not too bad, it has a download option, so you could download the eps to watch offline as well! 🙂

              Like

              • I’m afraid to download from them. I used to when i had an old leftover extra phone. But now it’s scary to even click an episode to watch with all the crazy pop ups. And yes, I have thoss blocked but they still take over my phone sometimes. I use ad blocker and it stops it from happening but then I can’t cast to my tv. I only go to that site for older dramas and anything the legit sites don’t have.

                Like

                • Oh.. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it caused problems on devices.. 😛 I’ve used the site before in a pinch, sometimes streaming and sometimes for downloads, but only on my Mac, which has been fine. I also use AdBlock. Hmm.. I guess I can only say, proceed with caution. 😛

                  Like

          • I still haven’t watched this yet so I haven’t read your review yet, but I did finally breakdown and purchased a Kocowa subscription.

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            • Aw, I hope the new subscription will do well by you, and make your drama watching life smoother and easier! 🙂 Also, if you’re in the mood for a light campus romance with a tsundere male lead, you might like this one! 🙂

              Like

              • It depends on whose doing the tsundre-ing. lol I don’t recognize him but I do plan on watching this anyway. I’ve grown to like the actress since seeing her in some very different roles.

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  3. I know myself too well to even try watching this one. 😃 These days I seem to be dropping even shows that totally seem like my thing. Didn’t know it was possible to get pickier than I already am. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol. I think you were wise not to attempt this one, Timescout! 😂 Even though I enjoyed this one very much, I can tell that it’s just not your thing. I do feel you on getting pickier though.. In the last couple of weeks, I got sucked in by RL busy-ness, and then found it actually kind of hard-going, coming back to dramas. I dabbled in a few of the new offerings, but found that very few actually managed to interest me. :/ I’m enjoying Familiar Wife more than I thought I would, though, and that’s a good thing! Not a bad one, if you haven’t seen it and are on the market for a new drama on your plate?

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      • Still not really feeling the kdramas I’m supposed to be watching. I keep forgetting they are on, LOL! Then there are the 2 cdramas that are on hold, pending subs. If they’d been fully subbed, I’d probably finished them already.

        I’ve got several dramas on The List that I could pick up but can’t seem to muster enough interest to even start. Sigh. What I’ve been watching instead is Chinese donghuas, ha. Those are short and easy to digest. I did just add An Oriental Odyssey (cdrama) on the roster though. It’s not too bad but no telling how long it’ll keep me interested. 🙂

        I did consider watching Familiar Wife but gave it a ‘pass’ in the end.

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        • Drama moods can be a finicky thing, I find, the longer I watch dramas. There are some dramas that I just can’t get into, despite the general buzz and positive responses. I’ve decided that I should just watch what I feel like, even if it means missing out on generally well-received shows that everyone else loves. Case in point, I saw lots of folks speaking fondly of Witch’s Love, but I wasn’t feeling it after several eps and dropped out. So I understand about not picking up Familiar Wife, even though it’s generally well spoken of. I personally like it quite a lot, but as they say, different strokes for different folks – especially if the different folks are dealing with finicky drama moods! 😆

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          • Well, I’ve never really gone with the popularity or general buzz when it comes to my shows. In fact I tend to go against the current more often than not. I like what I like, regardless. 😁

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            • Tee hee. That is true. You’ve disregarded general buzz for as long as I’ve known you, I think! 😀 I’m much more of a curious cat, ie, if people are saying that a show is amazing, I can’t help but feel curious about whether I’ll like it too, and end up checking out shows that I wouldn’t normally try. Sometimes that’s served me well, and other times, I’ve lived to regret it. I’m still working on finding a good balance with that 😛

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  4. Loved the review
    My second drama I have finished for this year and that is saying a lot. I have been dropping Meteor Garden 2018 too and can’t proceed beyond episode 2. So this drama is a welcome change. MIDIGB proves to be such a crack for me. Probably because of Do Kyung Seok crazily beautiful eyelashes or when he calls out Soo Ah’s bs is just so satisfying to watch. He is green in acting but I could see the potential to be a good actor here. His jealous fits is so amusing and loved to see Kyung Seok’s interest in Mirae progressing from the first episode until their relationship blossomed. Both are soft spoken too and I love they could talk frankly with each other. Rooting for Mirae too from someone who doesn’t believe herself worthy to be love to learning to love herself and still be kind to others and Kyung Seok supporting her and allows her to fight her own battles.

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    • Hi there leo, I’m glad you enjoyed this show – and this review! 😀 Hi5 on also dropping MG2018, I just lost interest after a few episodes, despite really liking the first ep. I guess I’m just over that story now. This show really was a refreshing surprise, in contrast! This cold male lead felt very appealing compared to lots of other cold male leads I’ve seen in dramaland, and that definitely helped suck me in. All in all, a fun, cracky watch, with sweetness and meaningful ideas woven in. Not bad at all, I say! 🙂

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  5. I always love your reviews..its always honest..most of the time we have same sentiments but sometimes no..hihi..well anyways..i “marathoned” MIIGB right after it was finished..and im glad i did..cos it was worth the watch..its been awhile since i last binge-watched a kdrama..(cos there’s a LOT nowadays..and its getting me bored..haha..)..but i enjoyed this one a lot that i finished it in 3 days in between work..haha..i guess thats my gauge now..if it gets me really excited and not sleepy in an episode or more..
    Actually i didnt google MIIGB’s plot or anything before i dipped my toes into it..to avoid spoilers..so i have no expectations whatsoever..but damn..one episode in and i know that im gonna enjoy it..well..aside from kyung seok’s (cha eun woo’s) visuals..the show tackled some important/relevant social issues that is really happening..spot on and i love that..and also the fact that im not just rooting for the 2 main leads characters..but for the supporting characters (there’s a lot of very good supporting characters here..eun..hyun jung..na hye sung (kyung seok’s eomma)..the short-haired girl sunbae..jung boon to name a few)as well is saying something as well..
    Im in for season 2 or a special episode..haha..i want more of dorae lovey-dovey-cheesy-sweet on my screen.!!!!😍💞❣️

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    • Aw, thanks for enjoying the reviews, May! ❤ And yay that you enjoyed this show! I thought it did a nice job being fluffy and cracky to suck in audiences, while slipping in some meaningful messages along the way. I know what you mean about not often having the urge to marathon dramas anymore. And yet, I had the urge to marathon this one! That definitely says something about this show, I think! 😍 And yes, I liked the side characters too! I wouldn't mind a special episode of this one either! 😉

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  6. Hope to see your review on Let’s Eat 3 🙂

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  7. Dropped Meteor Garden 2018 after ep 4/5 as well lols. But might give this a try! And I love love Jiang Chen haha keen to see if this show with give me more cold-leads-done-right feels

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  8. Hi kfangirl, I totally agree that Do kyung seok somehow reminds me of Jiang Chen of ALSB ( hmm, and I think Cha eun woo is hu yi tian’s long lost brother 😁..I can see the resemblance. But of course cha Eun woo is cuter! 😁) I enjoyed watching this kdrama and as always your reviews are always on point! Love it! 😁

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    • Tee hee! I like that thought, of Cha Eun Woo and Hu Yi Tian playing brothers! Double the cute! 😂😂 I’d love to see that happen sometime. Thanks for enjoying this review, jiniya! ❤

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  9. I didn’t expect to like this one as much so was very pleasantly surprised. I think for Soo Ae to get as much attention as she did, I wanted a bit more of an explanation for the level of toxicity. Overall a solid watch which seems to have resonated with Korean fans. I don’t know the source material but those that did seemed to approve which says something. I guess the best friend is just in the drama which explains why they didn’t do more with her. I thought there were a lot of ways to flesh that relationship out more but realize this is why they didn’t. I do think more attention could be given to men in Korea having the same type beauty standard. I mean the guy in the drama is getting all sorts of attention just for his looks as well. Some attention was given to it, but I found myself wanting more. Overall though this was a pretty satisfying drama and more so for it being so unexpected. I love it when that happens!

    PS: Meteor Garden….I just got to a point where I realized, I cannot do this again. I’m done with this story. I have no regrets.

    PSS: re: The gal that plays Soo Ae. Just a shout out to her. In my life, I’ve known two toxic people. Both women I hate to say. But the level of manipulation and passive-aggressive shown by the actress really brought back memories and not in a good way. I hope she plays a sweetie pie soon in something else.

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    • Hi there Kat! Yay that you enjoyed this one too! 😀 I don’t know the source material either, but like you said, if the people who love the source material approve, that’s gotta mean something!

      It would’ve been nice if Show could’ve explored the topic of men being subject to beauty standards as well, but for a show that exists in an industry where looks are still often prized over talent, I thought Show did an pretty admirable job with exploring the issue of beauty standards in a reasonably meaningful manner, while still managing to cater to audience preference and ratings pressures. 🙂

      I thought Soo Ae as a character was pretty interesting, and also, quite realistic in terms of how pretty girls can be very toxic. That’s probably why she brought back bad memories for you. 😛 So yes, hopefully that actress gets to show us that she’s capable of playing nice girls too! And OMG I feel you on Meteor Garden 2018. I VERY quickly got to the point where I realized I was over this story! 😛

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  10. Thank you for your thoughtful review! I have a lot of problems with the way Korean dramas handle society’s obsession with physical beauty. Although dramas give lip service to the notion that people should not be judged by their appearances, they merely talk the talk and almost never walk the walk. It can’t escape anyone’s attention that the leads and second leads are almost always beautiful (with creepily similar jawlines and sharp unnatural noses) while the unattractive characters are either villains or comic relief. I don’t even have to invest any brain power in figuring most characters out. When “ugly” people show up, they are often either bad (e.g., Mr. Sunshine) or the butt of jokes (e.g., Strong Woman). If an attractive character is bad, I know that there will be a tragic back story. Unattractive bad characters are rarely similarly humanized.

    It’s almost worse when Korean dramas try to take on people’s obsession with physical appearances because they end up reinforcing rather than challenging stereotypes. I noticed, for example, that in “The Beauty Inside” movie, which ostensibly tried to teach us that it’s what’s inside that counts, the movie took care to use an attractive actor whenever there was a significant milestones in the relationship, such as when they met, when she first saw the change, when they made love, when they broke up, and when they reunited. Dramas like “Oh My Venus,” and “200 Pound Beauty” all piously preach that physical appearances aren’t important. But they illustrate that by having less than beautiful women attracting Very Handsome Men and the women are all sufficiently prettified by the end. (Contrast that with the American Netflix movie, “Sierra Burgess is a Loser,” where the female lead remains plump and badass to the end.)

    I was disappointed to see that “My ID is Gangnam Beauty” was no exception. Of course the physically unattractive male character with glasses turns out to be a jerk. And of course the love interest is a beautiful guy who claims that he doesn’t care about the female lead’s looks (because the writer seems to think that that is every girl’s fantasy). And of course they seem to be surrounded by a preternatural group of attractive people. But what made me uncomfortable was the almost constant gushing and expressions of envy regarding the female lead’s, male lead’s, and second leads’ looks. If the drama was trying to tell people that they should pay less attention to physical beauty, then it failed rather spectacularly. Yes, the female lead was judged for her appearance before her surgery then she was judged for her appearance after surgery. But post-surgery, people admired and envied her and she was given special attention and privileges, so I couldn’t exactly cry me a river. I agree with you that the drama tries to say that beauty goes beyond looks but I think that what it actually says is get thee to a plastic surgeon if you want people to recognize your true value and underlying talents. No wonder that South Korea has such a high rate of plastic surgeries.

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    • This is “attractive privilege.” Our hero uses his power for good, but he wouldn’t get away with any of it if he wasn’t so good-looking. Because he’s so handsome, his seemingly boorish attitude and statements are ignored or considered cool. Yes, he’s bothered by always being judged on his looks alone, but who wouldn’t prefer to have that problem over being one of the nebbishy guys that surround him?

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    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Alaskan! I agree it’s a tricky thing, and I can see why people are not impressed with Show’s attempt at conveying its message about inner beauty. However, I do think it gave it a better attempt than most shows coming out of Korea, in that harassment of females because of their appearance is called out as an issue. And I did enjoy seeing the girls be strong and fight off the guys for harassing them.

      I also concede that this show is made in an industry where looks are still highly prized. Therefore there’s this irony going on, where they’re trying to make a statement, while still remaining profitable in an industry – and a country – where looks are highly prized. And profits and ratings – not themes – is what drama makers are more concerned with. So, to have a show that exists in this industry, and have to play by the industry’s rules in order to pay the bills and survive the ratings game, and still manage to give a pretty meaningful look at this theme, is something worth celebrating at least a little, in my books.

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  11. I watched this after reading your review, and I kind of enjoyed it especially since Show tackled issues on society’s beauty standards.

    What bothered me though was that Kyung Seok was super handsome and a lot of females gush over him — but isn’t Show supposed to impart the importance of beauty beyond physical looks? Had KS been plain-looking, would Kang Mi Rae even like him? I wasn’t that convinced about KMR’s feelings for KS — it looks as if she liked him because he was handsome.

    I liked ep 16, KMR went to save Soo-ah. KMR’s monologue was just on point.

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    • Hi there Phets, thanks for giving this show a chance based on my review 🙂

      I personally wasn’t bothered that Kyung Seok was handsome. I actually felt that Mi Rae liked him because of how he kept saving her and standing up for her. She was highly uncomfortable in her own skin, and often felt put on the spot, and he regularly stepped in to speak up for her. I have a feeling that that meant more to her than Kyung Seok’s looks. Also, I think the thing that really got her right in the heart, is knowing that he’d noticed her in high school pre-surgery, and that when everyone else had been repulsed by her looks, he’d seen her talent.

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  12. Great review, as always, but I have to disagree with this: “We have the various females in the Chemistry department being told exactly what’s wrong with their appearance by the guys, on a regular basis, and it’s being passed off as jokes when it’s really an invasion of privacy. ”

    “Invasion of privacy” is way too tepid a description for what is straight-up misogyny, sexual harassment and the usual crap men do to demean and subjugate women. Every woman knows what it feels like to be judged–and valued–by your looks. And whatever end of the spectrum you’re on, it feels bad.

    I thought show did a decent job of exploring this issue, and how it poisons everything. I also liked how the girls started standing up for themselves.

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    • That’s true, that “invasion of privacy” is too mild of a description. It is harassment, and I should have phrased it as such. But yes, the show does do a pretty nice job of showcasing the issue without it taking over everything else, and I, too, enjoyed seeing the girls stand up for themselves and fight back. Thanks for review! 🙂

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  13. I liked this a lot overall.
    My only qualm is that I feel ambivalent towards the fact that Mi Rae fell for the most handsome guy in college. It feels somehow that the leading lady achieved happiness in the end, overcame her struggles and her trophy was the handsome guy. That feels a bit contradictory with some of the show’s themes, which seem to criticise the excessive importance that people give to physical appearance (e.g. when the girls are openly criticised by the boys for their physical faults or lack or feminity in their outfits, etc).

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    • Glad you liked this one too, Elena. 🙂 I do get what you mean about the fact that Mi Rae ends up with everyone’s golden boy. It would have been interesting to have seen how the writers handled a story where she ends up with a more average looking guy. But I do acknowledge that the world that is portrayed is still a flawed one where appearances still count for a lot, in terms of how people perceive you. So perhaps one of the best ways to make everyone else jealous of Mi Rae, was to make the most handsome boy around have eyes only for her. Additionally, I ask myself whether it would’ve been reverse discrimination, if Kyung Seok had not been allowed to get the girl, purely for the fact that he was handsome.. It’s a thought that makes me more open to how this story panned out, I think. 🤔

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  14. Kfangurl – I hope you’re okay? I was just searching through my emails for any new posts from you and saw this is the last one you made, back in September! There are so many new and interesting dramas out that I would think we’d have something from you by now. I hope you’re not ill. And if you are, or have unpleasant personal stuff going on, just know you’re being thought of and prayed for. And I hope that you’re actually doing something fun, like a great vacation and that I’m just being my overly worry wart self!

    God bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there dear beez! Thank you for thinking of me – you make me feel so important and special. HUGS. ❤ I was really busy with some family stuff for a couple of weeks, and then after that I got a little sick for a bit, and I'm just now getting back into the groove of things. As a result I've been neglecting the blog – and even neglecting dramas for a while! – but I will be back properly soon! I hope you are well, and that you're having a good time with the new dramas that have joined this drama cycle. I hope to post something soonish, and I definitely hope to get back on top of all the lovely comments that have been accumulating as well. ❤

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  15. I love your reviews I kind of disagree of your grading on this one. I think that I writer of the show even though giving the show a look of a bubbly and typical kdrama, really hit points that a lot of Korean society aren’t willing to acknowledge. The show really brought to light a lot of aspects of korea’s issues such as insane beauty standards and extreme judgement (not to add: double standards, sexual harassment, objectification, unhealthy relationships and corruption) that aren’t talked about enough. I also think that sooah’s story line is really important because it directly juxtaposes mi rae’s character. The show really demonstrated how korea’s judgmental society permeates and negatively affects every type of person, whether considered conventionally or unconventionally attractive. But I also really liked your tidbit on themes as well (you identified ones that didn’t really think about but made the story even better!). Overall I agree with a lot but I personally think this is one of the best kdramas I’ve seen (A+++!!!). I think the character progression and important messages really bolstered up the drama. I also really enjoyed the ending, I personally think it made a really nice resolution to a very pertinent character, sooah and brought an immensely satisfying but not artificially extreme ending for mirae and kyungsoek’s relationship.

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    • Oh and also Kyungsoek’s handsomeness while in part was the show’s way of attracting views also played into the motif that “attractive” people in korea still have problems regardless of their looks. Also mirae definitely did not fall for kyungseok due of his looks bc she was even apprehensive about dating him because of his attractiveness. She later fell in love with him because of his kind and caring personality toward her.

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