About six months ago I was finally able to see a Korean movie that had been on my radar for a couple years – The Beauty Inside which was based on the 2012 American social internet series of the same name. I enjoyed it and was a bit surprised that it made me think a little deeper than I had originally expected. So, as soon as I saw there was a Kdrama planned with that same title (minus the The) I was anxious to see it and compare the two productions. Interestingly enough, they’re only similar, in the fact that they deal with a person who magically switches bodies. That’s it.
When the public comes to believe Seo Do-Jae and Han Se-Gye are dating they decide to pretend it’s true for the sake of his business and her career. But along the way the two actually begin to fall for one another. However, these sweethearts have a few major hurdles to get over – he suffers from prosopagnosia (face blindness) and her body completely changes for a week once a month.
Ten years ago, Seo Do-Jae was hit by a car while pushing an elderly woman out of its path. He received trauma to his brain which resulted in him suffering from prosopagnosia, or facial blindness. Thanks to continuous training he is able to use factors besides the face to distinguish those people in his everyday life and no one is the wiser. He comes from a prestigious family, his maternal grandfather being the head of a huge conglomerate, and is the managing director of T’Way Airline’s strategic planning as well as being heir to Sunwoo Group. The man is matter-of-fact and says things the way they are, which people could mistake for him lacking feeling. The truth is, he has prevented himself from becoming emotionally close to others because of his prosopagnosia and, because of that, he hasn’t been able to love himself.
Seo Do-Jae is the victim of a magical, transforming body. A decade ago, while on vacation with her best friend, Yoo Woo-Mi, Do-Ja awoke to find herself looking like an 80 year old grandma. Ever since that horrifying incident her body has changed its look once a month for a week at a time – age, sex, ethnicity… she’s been them all and each time she takes a picture of herself knowing that particular face will never show up in the world ever again. In spite of all that, she has managed to become one of South Korea’s A-list actresses and the face of T’Way Airlines.
Kang Sa-Ra is a tough businesswoman who can hold her own next to any man. She is beautiful, intelligent and works hard in order to give her step-brother, Seo Do-Jae, a run for his money where the airline business is concerned. She is Sunho Group’s One Air Airlines Chairwoman.
There are only two people who know about Han Se-Gye’s illness, her childhood friends – Ryu Eun-Ho and Yoo Woo-Mi. Eun-Ho is friendly, kind, and loved by everyone he meets. He works hard at several different part-time jobs (an employee at a coffee shop, a house cleaner, a delivery man, a replacement driver, and a perfume sample distributor) but wants to be a priest. Woo-Mi is the CEO of World Entertainment, Se-Gye’s management company. She takes care of Se-Gye, running interference with the press, public, and the entertainment business every time Se-Gye’s illness pops up and creates a problem.
Seo Do-Jae’s secretary and right hand man is Jung Joo-Hwan. He has been by Do-Jae’s side continuously since he was diagnosed with prosopagnosia, whispering names at business functions and helping him memorize certain nuances about family members and employees.
Han Se-Gye has a white, furry friend named Kkingkkang, which is a clever name in and of itself but made even better by the fact that it is attached to a teeny-tiny dog that wears clothes. Kkingkkang is a play on King Kong, the giant gorilla. I love clever out-of-the-box ideas like that. When I was a kid I wanted to have a black dog named Snowball and a white dog named Midnight. That’s just the kind of person I am.
For information about Lee Min-Ki, the actor who plays lovable Seo Do-Jae, go to my Because This is My First Life review.
My Temperature of Love review contains information about Seo Hyun-Jin, the actress who plays the part of Han Se-Gye.
So, what are the differences between The Beauty Inside movie and the drama? Well…
In the movie the person who changes bodies is a man. In the drama it’s a woman.
In the movie the change happens every single night as the man sleeps. In the drama the change occurs only once a month but for a week at a time.
The movie has the guy being pretty much a recluse while the drama has the body-changer being a prominent social figure.
The movie brings up how confused the significant other was in not being able to recognize the person they love, whereas in the drama that’s not a problem because Do-Jae can’t recognize faces anyway.
As you can imagine, the drama goes into much more depth than does the movie but, then again, the drama is 14 hours longer.
I loved Do-Jae. His personality reminded me a bit of the character he played in Because This is My First Life. He’s a rock, strong and even-tempered, allowing nothing to rile him, which makes his tears (when they come) all the more meaningful.
Refreshingly, there are only two characters in this story that are rotten – Sa-Ra’s fiancé and an actress who works with Se-Gye – and they are only in the show for a very short while. I think the writer figured Se-Gye and Do-Jae have enough challenges to overcome without having to battle evil people.
There is a supporting couple in this story. Kang Sa-Ra and Ryu Eun-Ho begin to like each other, which poses a problem since he wants to be a priest and she has a fiancé. It’s fun watching these two interact. Is Eun-Ho willing to give up God in order to be with Sa-Ra, and is Sa-Ra okay with giving up on her fiancé so she can be with Eun-Ho?
Although switching bodies once a month is just make believe, prosopagnosia is a real illness. Beauty Inside is the second Kdrama I’m aware of that has had one of its characters suffer from this disorder. Chef Kwon Jae-Hee in Sensory Couple (an awesome who-done-it) also is a victim of face blindness.
So, put yourself in these characters’ shoes. If you suffered from prosopagnosia would you try to hide it, like Do-Jae or would you let others know of your problem? And what if you were in a situation like Se-Gye? How many people would you let in on your little secret? Would you call in sick one week a month or let everyone at work know about what you’re experiencing and just go to work as an 80 year old man or an eight year old girl? It’s impossible to not think of those things while watching the show.
I couldn’t help but notice the director, too often for my liking, had the main focus in the shot down at the bottom of the camera/screen. Why not show us more of the actors? A shot of the actor’s head and shoulders with a good chunk of sky really isn’t all that aesthetically pleasing to me. Oh well, it didn’t detract from the story, so that’s good.
There is a major problem which is impossible to overlook. When Se-Gye changes, the body she changes into is, of course, wearing the same clothes she had on before. But there’s one time when it shows her, as a man, change back into her original body and she’s, poof, magically in different clothes. That’s not right.
Beauty Inside has an excellent soundtrack. One of the best Kdrama ballads so far this year has to be Falling in Love, beautifully sung by Davichi. It’s powerful yet soft and full of emotion. Cloud, performed by Rothy, is an upbeat song that, when I turned off halfway through, caused my friend to say, “Awww, I liked that.” K.Will, in the gorgeous ballad Beautiful Moment pleads, “Don’t walk away, I’m falling down.” Soul stirring. One song uses a simple acoustic guitar and Wendy’s lovely soprano voice (from Red Velvet) to sadly say Goodbye. On the downside, the song Run performed by 2morrow is fingernails-on-a-chalkboard irritating because of its horrible English words. Get ready for this… “When I was a ten years boy Daddy told me every day, when did you feel to be changed? Take your time and tried again. Now I stand here on crossroads. Maybe a reason for my life. It will be a little scared. It will be a little hard. Doesn’t work that way. Running out of time. I can’t wait anymore. Now I’m running to the end. No one ever has been through. I know (something). I can’t stop running my own way. I’m a shining man on sky. Places where (something). Feels like I’m on cloud nine. I can’t stop running my own way.” Please excuse the punctuation, or lack thereof. I can’t tell where exactly to put commas or periods because the words don’t make any sense! Please, lyricists! Please get someone fluent in English to edit what you write. I’ll gladly take the job and do it for free! The music to Run is excellent but the words ruin the entire thing! Aahhhhh!
As for backgrounds, Do-Jae’s house is decorated in dark colors, has an interesting floor plan, and is much more humble than I would have expected from a man who is to inherit a conglomerate. Se-Gye’s house is open, bright and humongous but it makes sense that it would need to be big since she has a large room that functions as a closet – with clothes to fit all ages and sizes of both sexes. She also has pictures framed of every body she’s been in (changing once a month for ten years would mean 120 photographs) so that takes up quite a bit of space in another room. There’s a trip to the beach and one to a smaller town in the country. We also see Do-Jae’s office and Sa-Ra’s house quite often.
If you haven’t seen the movie it’s not really necessary to do so before turning on the drama. This show stands well on its own, reminding us that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts – it’s the Beauty Inside.
The character Seo Do-Jae
Two interesting physical conditions
Two enjoyable romances
Makes us wonder what we’d do in their shoes
The song Run
One mistake with clothes when she changes back
Some shots have the subject too low to the bottom of the screen