When speaking in a broad scheme of things, South Korean & Indian culture — as in with many Asian cultures — are quite similar. Of course, there are variations with regard to lớn the different cultural nuances, but the beats are similar — respect your elders, study & work hard, remove your shoes outside, eat rice, and so on và so forth. & this is what made it easy for me khổng lồ watch & enjoy nội dung from a different country. But there was one cultural barrier I found difficult to cross over — beauty.

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Now, in India, we are obsessed with fairness, which for us is what constituents being beautiful. If you are fair, you are considered beautiful. The same goes for South Korea as well. Being fair or pale is desirable but there is an added pressure khổng lồ have or hone the ‘ideal’ face, lượt thích having a small face with big eyes & double eyelids và a high bridge nose. So, it isn’t unusual lớn watch South Koreans discuss và compliment distinguishable features of your face, even going as far as lớn ask if you got ‘work done’ or it’s all ‘natural’. Hence, the strain lớn look và maintain an idealized face and figure has led khổng lồ a booming plastic surgery industry in the country, và while it is common khổng lồ go under the knife, it isn’t so common lớn talk about it, because as much as people are shamed, bullied or harassed for not conforming to the phối beauty standards, they are also shamed, bullied or harassed for not being ‘naturally beautiful’. My ID is Gangnam Beauty exposes và unravels this hypocrisy in a subtle yet effective manner.

(Note: The phrase Gangnam Beauty is a derogatory term used lớn describe people who are good-looking but evident that they have gotten plastic surgery done, denoting that they look artificial or lượt thích a plastic beauty. Gangnam refers lớn the rich upscale district in Seoul which houses a number of cosmetic clinics.)



The drama follows Kang ngươi Rae (a wonderful Im Soo Hyang) post-surgery, through her first year of college, as a student of chemistry at Hankook University. Ngươi Rae is bullied throughout her adolescent years, first through primary school for being overweight and later in middle school — even after losing weight và having a slim figure — for her face. We never see mi Rae’s face prior to lớn her surgery, which was a very thoughtful decision on the creators’ part, as it is not only respectful towards the actor playing (the younger) ngươi Rae but just as beauty cannot be defined by one person alone, neither can ‘not being conventionally beautiful’ be defined by one person alone. This is just one of the many aspects of this topic that writer Choi Soo Young broaches with sensitivity và this plot point is also later used khổng lồ emphasize some of mày Rae’s classmate’s morbid obsession khổng lồ find out how she looked pre-surgery. This is a very relevant issue, as it is quite common to lớn find people going through actors’ & idols’ pre-debut photos to kiểm tra if they got work done or are ‘naturally beautiful’, và thereby worthy of being famous.

So, it isn’t surprising that mày Rae places utter importance on appearance, rating people’s faces whenever she sees them. The constant harassment has led her khổng lồ believe that if you aren’t pretty, you have no value in this society. & so she decides khổng lồ get plastic surgery done in hopes of finally being accepted by the very society that has harassed her till now.

I liked that mi Rae’s mother (Kim Sun Hwa) was supportive of this decision of hers, & while the show doesn’t indicate anything as such, I presume her father’s reaction — one of disappointment and anger — towards ngươi Rae’s decision was maybe because she resembled him (her mother once refers to lớn herself as 미인, meaning beautiful or belle) and my guess is that it hurt him that she wanted lớn change herself because she looked like him. Yet again, a seemingly insignificant addition brings forth another interesting viewpoint, as some people bởi consider getting plastic surgery as a khung of disrespect towards your parents, whom you are said to resemble.

Im Soo Hyang plays mày Rae’s confusion & skepticism, amidst some excitement, during the early parts of the show really well. Based on her new face, she is reborn as a new person (her new ID thẻ is proof of that change being permanent) but on the inside, she is still the same mày Rae, one who just seeks acceptance. This particular characteristic is brought out wonderfully in the first episode when mày Rae is astonished when a boy asks for her number, & she mutters lớn herself, oh right, I forgot that I am pretty now. But soon enough mi Rae learns that with beauty, comes attention, lots of it, and most of them are unfortunately unsolicited.

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Through various gatherings, we see how much looks and appearances are the centre of most conversations. In another drama, all this would be just banter, but in a show spotlighting beauty, you notice how male students rank female students on their looks or tell them to thua trận weight or khổng lồ dress more girly. Girls point out each other insecurities under the guise of giving a compliment. Even employers only want lớn hire good looking part-timers. This obsession extends lớn people who are ‘naturally beautiful’ as well, lượt thích Do Kyung Seok & Hyun Soo A.Soo A (played by a fantastic Jo Woo Ri) is one of the best villains in a rom-com since School 2015. She isn’t cartoonishly evil nor is she extremely cold & calculative. Soo A is a bit of both, and Jo Woo Ri plays her so well that while you hate her guts, she also keeps you guessing as lớn why she is, the way she is.

Soo A reminded me a lot of Yoo Jung from Cheese in the Trap, where she, just like him, nonchalantly uses her beauty (beauty here, money there) and the attention it garners to her advantage, và just like Yoo Jung, there’s a reason behind it all. But what makes all this even more exciting is that Kyung Seok sees right through her, similar khổng lồ how Seol is the first one lớn notice Jung’s true nature. This one characteristic of Kyung Seok (played by a very handsome but very stoic Cha Eun Woo of Astro) saves him from being another cold-on-the-outside-but-warm-on-the-inside-hero. He is just so sweet lớn Mi Rae & is fully supportive towards her (while it is debatable that would Kyung Seok have asked mi Rae out if she hadn’t gotten plastic surgery done) that I forgave phụ thân Eun Woo’s lack of expressions.

I loved mày Rae’s relationship with Kyung Seok’s mother na Hye Sung (Park Joo Mi). Mi Rae gains a mentor and a friend in her, và it is just so delightful to see how mi Rae can let her guard down and talk freely about anything that is bothering her. The conversation between them set in the ice cream parlour right after ngươi Rae’s outburst at Young Cheol (Ha Kyung) was one of my favourites, where mày Rae learns that being beautiful can come with its own set of downsides. Another conversation pushes mày Rae lớn empathize with Soo A, and in an important scene later on, when ngươi Rae finally stands up to Soo A, it is not because she is no longer afraid of her, but because she now understands how similar they are.

This balance is precisely what I loved about this drama. It never takes sides but rather presents khổng lồ us all the different ways the pressure to lớn be and being beautiful takes a toll on a woman’s physical và mental health. We all are in the end, victims of a system that places too high a demand lớn fulfill.

My ID is Gangnam Beauty is steadily paced, placing importance on mi Rae’s journey to self-acceptance and grasping that every girl is under pressure khổng lồ look beautiful & be accepted. As she asks Soo A, ‘I got plastic surgery to be pretty và you are naturally pretty, but are we both happy?’The only hurdles were the middle portion of the drama which goes into a lull, suddenly shifting focus onto Kyung Seok’s family, và the hàng hóa placement, particularly the one promoting a weight loss drink, which felt a bit distasteful considering the show also broaches the topic of bulimia.

But what I really vị love is how K-dramas use a mix template (of rom-coms) to lớn tell different stories. Take Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, which tells the love story of a weightlifter, or Extraordinary You, which is mix inside a comic book, or Her Private Life, which is about the life of a fangirl. They all unabashedly utilize all the tropes we adore, but at the same time, they still present something different to lớn us every time. Comparing this to lớn the recently watched Mismatched, I wished they could have also wallowed in these tropes as they were clearly present there. & while they are subplots pertaining khổng lồ homosexuality, disability, bullying, alcopiea, and online dating/matchmaking, they are used as tools lớn amp up the drama, not lớn tell a story.