Beauty… everything I’ve read or heard about South Koreans testifies to the fact that a person’s physical appearance is of the upmost importance to them. It is even considered the plastic surgery capital of the world, where people are obsessed with being thin, beautiful, and looking young. (And let’s face it folks, their stars are drop-dead gorgeous, men included.) Anyone would want to be considered good-looking, right? But, is there a downside to being beautiful? My ID is Gangnam Beauty gives us the pros and cons to this beauty debate.
Poor Kim Mi-Rae was never one of nature’s original beauties and there were always plenty of people to remind her of that fact. When she was teased for being over weight she used her determination and strong will to shed those excess pounds but there was nothing she could do about her face. Plastic surgery was always an option but her father adamantly refused to allow her that quick fix, insisting she was his beautiful daughter no matter what anyone else said. So without his knowledge her mother sneaks her away after high school graduation and she undergoes extensive plastic surgery before entering college. Now that she is no longer an ugly duckling will Mi-Rae discover the happiness she so desperately desired or will being a beautiful swan come with its own set of challenges?
Kang Hulk was the cruel nickname the students bestowed upon Mi-Rae when she was in middle school. Life was such hell for her that she actually contemplated ending all the suffering by committing suicide. Even though she had a close friend, Oh Hyun-Jung, they only hung out together outside of school to avoid Hyun-Jung being persecuted for befriending such a hideous girl. In desperation she turns to cosmetic surgery because, she explains, “I just wanted to be loved like an average person.” Although plastic surgery is considered fairly commonplace, she is apprehensive about having her new peers find out about how much work she has had done on her face. Due to her challenging past in having to deal with a look that wasn’t up to the standard people have for beauty, Mi-Rae has hopes of becoming a perfumer. Why? Simply because, “Perfumes may be the only beauty that can be felt with your eyes closed.” Because of her past loner lifestyle she is on the shy side, not very talkative, and a bit nervous about all the attention pretty Mi-Rae is getting.
Known as the “face genius,” Do Kyung-Seok’s looks have always commanded attention. Referring to him, Mi-Rae said, “Some are born to have daily lives that look like photoshoots.” In his early teen years he was considered “the face of Jaryong Middle School,” where both he and Mi-Rae were students. Every girl wants to date him and every boy wants to be him. His mother left when he was young so he and his younger sister were raised by their single father. He was brought up in the lap of luxury, his father was a congressman who is now running in the mayoral election and his mother is the CEO of a prominent perfume company. The young man is a triple threat – aside from being gorgeous and wealthy he is also brilliant. Although Kyung-Seok is extremely popular he is pretty much a closed-off person. He speaks quietly and only when he is spoken to, short succinct answers. Smiling is not something he does often.
Twenty-six year old Yeon Woo-Young is a very mature graduate student who works in the chemistry department as a teacher’s assistant at the University. He is outgoing, smart, determined, and self-sufficient. Although he falls for Mi-Rae’s beauty he comes to like her for more than just her outward appearance.
Voted best looking girl in the chemistry department, Hyun Soo-A is social, complimentary, likable, and humble. Every male in her vicinity would love to be crowned her boyfriend but she seems to have eyes for Kyung-Seok. She befriends Mi-Rae the minute they meet. The girl seems a little too good to be true.
The actress who plays the Gangnam Beauty (Kim Mi-Rae) is 28 year old Im Soo Hyung. I find it amazing she is able to play a character that is just shy of a decade younger than she is in real life! Her acting debut was in the movie 4th Period Mystery. Two years later she won a Best New Actress award and a New Star Award for her performance in the TV drama New Tales of Gisaeng. In 2014 she branched out of the South Korean market by appearing in the Chinese film Love of the Sea. Although she’s been in many Kdramas the only other thing I’ve seen that she’s been in is Paradise Ranch. I can’t help but wonder how she must have felt playing the part of someone who is considered pretty only because she’s had extensive plastic surgery.
You might recognize Do Kyung-Seok as Cha Eun-Woo, one of the six singers in the Kpop group ASTRO. Funny enough, that singing group’s entertainment debut was as actors in the webdrama To Be Continued, which really isn’t very good at all. Twenty-one year old Eun-Woo graduated from Hanlim Multi Arts School in 2016 and is now majoring in performing arts at Sungkyunkwan University. Along with acting and singing he has been a co-host of the show Show! Music Core since 2016. My ID is Gangnam Beauty is his first leading television role. I’m anxious to see that handsome face smile more often and hope he can be cast as a cheerful leading character soon.
Twenty-six year old Jo Woo-Ri is pretty much a mystery. I tried to get some personal background on her and turned up empty. All I can tell you is that she has been acting since 2011 and has confined her acting to television. The shows I’ve seen that she’s been a part of are Can Love Become Money, Descendants of the Sun, and Queen of Mystery 2.
At just 13 years old Kwak Dong-Yeon move to Seoul by himself in order to pursue his dream of being an artist. He studied music at FNC Academy and took acting lessons. He’s also a graduate of School of Performing Arts Seoul. He won the Best Young Actor award for his performance in the TV series My Husband Got a Family which happened to be his acting debut! The whole time I was watching this drama I kept thinking, “The guy playing Yeon Woo-Young looks familiar.” So I finally checked online to see I why I might have recognized him and, BINGO! Kwak Dong-Yeon is the swordsman and Prince Yi Yeong’s best friend in the fabulous Kdrama Moonlight Drawn by Clouds! I’ve also seen him in Adolescence Medley, Please Come Back, Mister, Fight My Way, Into the World Again, and Radio Romance. Aside from acting, Dong-Yeon is a member and lead guitarist of the group Kokoma Band.
My ID is Gangnam Beauty is a drama I think the entire world needs to view. I would recommend it to everyone, male and female. By our early teenage years the worry about our physical appearance begins to show its ugly head and this drama is packed with pearls of wisdom on that very subject. Please watch it and suggest it to young teenagers!
There are a couple dramas I’ve seen in the past whose overall theme deals with physical appearance – Birth of a Beauty is all about plastic surgery and Oh, My Venus talks about being thin. But this show points out two things critically important the others don’t. Kyung-Seok explains to Mi-Rae why he likes her – “You’re just you,” he says. He doesn’t care that she wasn’t pretty before and he doesn’t care that she had extensive plastic surgery to make her beautiful now. To him, she’s just Mi-Rae, the girl he likes. And Mi-Rae finally comes to understand that she didn’t need to be concerned with how she appeared to others – “… I realized that not many people were that interested in me.” Two great lessons we would all do well to internalize.
Plastic surgery… to do or not to do? That is the question. One may think that things will be better after a procedure “fixes” what is “wrong” with them but then they have to deal with others thinking their beauty is fake. Gangnam is a posh, upscale area of Seoul so you might conclude being told you’re a Gangnam Beauty is a compliment. But if that’s what’s in your head you couldn’t be further from the truth. Gangnam is an area that is famous for its plastic surgery district. In an article I read it said that in Gangnam “… there are between four and five hundred [plastic surgery] clinics and hospitals within a square mile!” Wow! At one point in the show an upperclassman tells Mi-Rae, “You’re nothing but a plastic monster. What a joke. Gangnam is infested with girls like you.”
I found it fascinating, yet sad, that Mi-Rae critiqued and judged every face she saw – “I evaluated their faces and put scores to them,” she says. I think we all do that to some degree or another but when it becomes the first thing you do when you meet someone, you know you have a problem. When Mi-Rae admits that is what she does Kyung-Seok scolds her by saying that instead of fixing what she thought was wrong with her face, “Maybe you should have fixed you’re pathetic mindset instead.” I have a dear friend that pretty much agrees with Kyung-Seok. Whenever I would mention something about being concerned with how other people saw me, he would say, “Don’t worry about what others think, Sara. That’s what your middle finger’s for.” After hearing him say that enough times I began to not care so much about what someone else may be thinking about me. And that’s seriously empowering.
I would love to write down lots more quotes and lessons we learn from this drama but I want you to watch the show and find them. If I elaborate on all of them it will keep you from discovering its many gems of wisdom yourself. So, pay close attention and enjoy the helpful instruction.
The “oops” I caught was a small one but stood out none the less. Mi-Rae is sitting down but getting ready to leave so she puts her bag over shoulder. However, when she stands and walks away it’s no longer on her shoulder but in her hand.
The music in My ID is Gangnam Beauty is really good. George and Kang Hye-In perform Something – he sings the verses in Korean and she sings the chorus in English and also does some rapping near the end. It’s an awesome, awesome song! D-Day, performed by Junggigo, and True, sung by Runy, are great upbeat songs. Jin Min-Ho is responsible for the beautiful vocal in Always You. But the best song of all is Cha Eun-Woo’s (Do Kyung-Seok) romantic, solo ballad Rainbow Falling. I love it when the show’s actors sing on the soundtrack. Oh, one other thing, three cheers for the excellent decision to have Kwak Dong-Yeon’s character, Yeon Woo-Young, play the guitar and sing in the drama. If you’ve got a singer/guitarist acting in your show you should definitely take advantage of their talents.
Most of the story takes place during the warmer months of the year with the main background being the university campus and the lead and supporting characters’ apartments. Not a lot to be said about any of it.
My ID is Gangnam Beauty isn’t as wonderful as I thought it was going to be but it’s a definite must watch simply for the strengthening and comforting lessons it teaches. I think you should make it a priority on your watch list and suggest it to your friends.
Holds your interest
The acting isn’t wow
The leading male and female are too emotionally closed off to be really likable