I was expecting a light romantic comedy but Birth of a Beauty delivers a much bigger punch than I had anticipated. It’s packed with attempted murder, infidelity, greed, dysfunctional family situations, blackmail, spying, corrupt business practices, revenge, and yes… plenty of romance laced with some comedy throughout.
This isn’t just a story about a woman who decides to have plastic surgery to become more attractive. Well, yes, her transformation was rooted in plain old vanity but once she was “beautiful” she learned something that completely changed her focus and realized looking totally different would help her accomplish a much more important goal… revenge! And the easiest way to get revenge is to put yourself right next to the person you’re trying to exact revenge on. For that, you need a disguise – a really good disguise – one that makes you look like a completely different person. The problem is, evil Kdrama people are usually able to see through a disguise after awhile, even a really good one.
This “beauty” appears just 49 days after she drives her car off a cliff and into the ocean, and she’s stunningly gorgeous. Before the accident she was over weight and fairly plain. After the accident she’s a thin knock-out! Okay, does anybody else find that a little difficult to take seriously, or is it just me? I know someone who had liposuction just around her mid-section and she was in pain for a couple weeks. I also know that a plain old face lift causes bruising and swelling for quite some time. So we’re supposed to believe that this gal is in, literally, perfect condition just 49 days after a major body overhaul? Just not buyin’ it. However, put that aside and Birth of a Beauty is an entertaining 21 hours.
I was cruising along just fine until episode 16. That’s when it took an all too familiar turn. You’ve heard the saying, “Love ’em and leave ’em”, well, Kdramas put a different twist on that saying – “Leave ’em ’cause ya love ’em”, and the writer of Birth of A Beauty decided to drag out a few more unnecessary episodes using that philosophy.
Birth of a Beauty stars Han Ye-Seul as our heroin Sa Keum-Ran who becomes Sara. Keum-Ran is a kind-hearted housewife who has been away from her husband for seven long years while he has been abroad going to school, thanks to her money. She diligently takes care of his family, with a smile on her face, waiting for her love to return.
Joo Sang-Wook is Han Tae-Hee. He refers to himself as “a genius” and, in all reality, isn’t that far off. He’s not arrogant but is, instead, very sure of himself, and he loves to be praised! He’s a self-made successful businessman but is also, secretly, the heir to a huge company. And although it’s Sara who’s the beauty, Tae-Hee is nothing short of deliciously handsome.
Even though it has some pretty ballads I wasn’t overly thrilled with the soundtrack. However, SHINee’s Jong-Hyun sings the lively opening/theme song, She, and his voice is so cheerful sounding, that one song alone helps give a lighter feel to the whole drama. It’s one you can’t help but hum.
The show was mainly shot indoors – the TV station, Tae-Hee and Sara’s house, the company offices, and the homes of the supporting characters. Funny thing is, once it got going and I realized what it was really about, I didn’t even expect to see pretty outdoors shots so the absence of dazzling scenery wasn’t even missed.
It wasn’t until the very end but the writers finally put in what I was hoping this drama was going to be about – Eun Gyung-Joo tells Sara/Sa Keum-Ran that she wants to have full-body plastic surgery so she can be beautiful, too. Sara then very seriously tells her what I was waiting to hear. She says that she would never again “hurt her body” with plastic surgery and that everyone is beautiful the way they are. Yippee and hallelujah! Let’s get that message out there, folks! South Korea is known world wide for its plastic surgery. Parents even pay for their daughters to get plastic surgery as a graduation gift or as an incentive for good grades. I loved the fact that several different people in the show told beautiful Sara she was “fake” – beautiful but fake. Maybe this Kdrama will do more than just entertain an audience. Hopefully, it will teach people that being a “real” person with physical imperfections is more beautiful than being a “fake” gorgeous one.
It broke my heart to hear Sa Keum-Ran’s mother-in-law tell her she was embarrassed to go out in public with her. And I wanted to smack the sisters-in-law when they referred to her as a “little piggy”. Ouch! There’s no way you can’t internalize something like that. But close to the end of the show Sara tells Tae-Hee, “You healed someone like me, with praise and encouragement.” So I think Sara’s real beauty came from Tae-Hee healing her heart NOT from her plastic surgery. And that, my dear readers, was the true birth of this beauty.
I give Birth of a Beauty full marks for being bold enough to tell the world what Mr. Rogers has been teaching children for decades, “You are special and people can like you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!”
Joo Sang-Wook and Han Ye-Seul’s chemistry
Moral about “real” beauty
A little lengthy
Jung Gyu-Woon being the bad guy
Wang Ji-Hye’s mean character