Mask’s premise is intriguing. Everyone has a twin in the world that is not biologically related to them. The untimely death of a rich woman on the verge of an important marriage creates the opportunity. The identity swap is offered to a look alike woman who grabs the lifeline to save herself and her family who are drowning in debt. Mask, a Korean drama (20 episodes), aired in the summer of 2015.
The story was complex and gripping yet had logic flaws and gaps in credibility. Despite this, Mask was a compelling drama from start to finish.
Our semi-villain sister in law Min Yeon, flipped between supporting her family and being a slave to her husband Seok Hoon’s plans to destroy her family. The loyalty shifts limited the power and credibility of this character.
The story veered several times. It appeared the writer did not have a beginning to end trajectory mapped out, so there were muddled and dropped plot points coupled with changes in directions that downgraded my enjoyment of this series, especially in the latter third.
What I loved:
The love story – Min Woo was a intriguing leading man. He was wounded and his family plotted against him. Enter Eun Ha, a common woman thrust into a bizarre family dynamic while impersonating another person. In spite of the unusual circumstances and their business based marriage, they were drawn to each other. Eun Ha sorted out the issues and gently led Min Woo to confront and defeat his demons and those that plotted against him. In return, he fell in love with Eun Ha and supported her quest to extract herself from the assumed identity trap she found herself in. Their initial love story was compelling and wonderful to watch. A memorable moment was when Eun Ha, in a stunning dress, dances with Min Woo at a charity event. The physical awareness was heightened creating an “it’s only us in the world” moment. Another memorable moment was when Min Woo blocked goons from hitting Eun Ha and took a blow to the back and glared at his attacker – impressive! Once their love was established it was tested but Min Woo’s loyalty to Eun Ha and vice versa was unbreakable.
The opening sequence – Superb initial sequence as Eun Ha driving a van plunges over a cliff but does not go into the churning sea because the guardrail cables hooked the van. She receives a call from Seok Hoon offering her the chance to save her life and her family if she agrees to his offer. Desperate and near death, she agrees. Then the cables snap and she plunges into the sea. Stunning visually, thick with suspense, it was a wow opener to the series.
What I disliked:
The loan shark – dreadful person in a dreadful wig.
The car chases – there were many and they were all sub par.
The story inconsistencies –
* Eun Ha appeared to be evolving to be strong and resourceful foe to Seok Hoon then she’d lapse into stupidity trusting the lying Seok Hoon.
* Min Yeon appeared to support her brother not her husband, then she’d flip and support her husband not her brother, then she’d flip again.
* Seok Hoon’s power seemed unstoppable and there were times when he got away with things that you simply shook your head at. The balance between good and evil is difficult in stories. When the villian has too much power, which happened several times, the quality of the story is diminished.
* Why Min Woo and his mother were chased, which lead to her death and his childhood trauma, was resolved in a throw away conversation and the rationale made it inconsequential.
* Once the backstory to why Seok Hoon hated the family and what fueled his unrelentingly quest for revenge was revealed, it was insufficient.
What I’ll watch for in the future:
Shows written by Choi Ho Chul. I have not watched the 2012 “Secret Love”, his only other kdrama for which he won the “Excellence Award” at One-Act Play Script Contest. I plan to check this out and look for future shows by this writer. There is story telling talent here. Can the inconsistencies be ironed out and clearer vision for a series be maintained in the next show? I plan to find out.
The Mask Playlist has all the tracks from Disc 1 (which contains the 8 part OST) and a couple of the instrumental tracks from Disc 2. Check it out via the link or the embedded playlist below: